NEW YORK CITY | So here we have it. Finally. The second installment of Tempest 3: The Tide is Rising. What’s it all about? Three Cultures. Three Companies. Three Tempests.
Direct From Seoul Korea, Mokwha Repertory Company production of The Tempest is adapted and directed by Tae-Suk Oh. It will have four performances only: November 20– 23 at Ellen Stewart Theatre
The show is part of LaMaMa’s 53rd season umbrella theme, “La MaMa Earth,” featuring works that raise awareness of world ecology and social justice both locally and globally: the Mokwha Repertory Company from Korea’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, set in 5th century Korea. This Korean The Tempest bows its noble head this season on the 2-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy.
The trilogy began last month with an acclaimed production ofThe Tempest directed by Karin Coonrod with music by Elizabeth Swados, and will conclude in December with Nella Tempesta from Italy.
Inspired by a true story from the Korean Chronicles Of The Three Kingdoms, Mokwha’s Tempest infuses Shakespeare’s text with elements of traditional Korean folklore and offers theater-goers the opportunity to experience Shakespeare’s play through a very different cultural lens. With music played on Korean instruments and performed in richly layered costumes, this mind-bending production explores acts of nature as they are affected by acts of betrayal, love, forgiveness and reconciliation.
In Mokwha Repertory Company‘s adaptation, Shakespeare’s original finds itself caught and torn apart in the eye of a storm; then reassembled with Korean traditional theatrical and music styles to create something unique, fascinating and riotously enjoyable. What impresses most however is the charming appeal of the piece as a whole. With its enthusiastic performances; direction which nods to the fourth wall; and its colorfully creative design: Mokwha’s The Tempest casts an irresistible spell over audiences.
“Tae Suk-Oh is an artist who was part of the early presentation of Korean art that happened at La MaMa since the early 1970s,” says Mia Yoo, La MaMa’s Artistic Director. “In 1977 his Hamlet created a sensation at La MaMa and went on to tour all over the world. To have him back with us after all these years is very meaningful. And it is especially important to have his Tempest be a part of our Tempest 3 series because of the environmental issues facing Korea. While this production is not about climate change per se, the way in which Tae Suk-Oh’s work weaves Korea’s cultural past and present makes it a perfect show for La MaMa.”
The stage is set with bare-minimum props, placing all the attention on the actors. This not only sets the tone for the barrenness of the island, but also makes the audience rely on the characters to bring Shakespeare’s play to life.
For example, opening scene of the storm and fire aboard the King of Naples’ ship is staged as a dance with long white scarves to form waves, which only become more vigorous and exaggerated as the storm gets stronger. The scarves are then replaced with bright orange fans to conjure up images of fire. This dance eliminates the need to understand the banter in this scene.
The Tempest is Shakespeare’s last play written alone – believed to have been written in 1610 – set on a remote island, where Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, plots to outwit his scheming brother and restore his daughter Miranda to her rightful place in the kingdom. To accomplish this, Prospero uses illusion and manipulation, conjuring up a massive storm that helps lay bare the truth.
The third and final production will be the U.S. premiere of Nella Tempesta by Motus Theatre. Italy’s provocative and dynamic Motus Theatre Company explores questions of freedom, control and power in Nella Tempesta.
Reflecting on the turmoil in our society – the impact of Hurricane Sandy, the consequences of the economic crisis and questioning of future landscapes – Nella Tempesta is created from fragments of novels by authors including: Philip K. Dick, William Gibson, Aldous Huxley as well as Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Une Tempête by Aimé Césaire. This version of The Tempest imagines the play about a world not as it appears to be ending, but a world on the verge of a new beginning. Eight performances only now through October 22nd. Tickets will be $30 Adults; $25 Students/Seniors.
For additional information and a full performance schedule, please call La MaMa at 212 475 7710 or visit www.lamama.org.