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We gathered together again in January 2008 to create our production of The Tempest. We were twelve actors, and we decided to see if we could be completely collaborative and work without any director at all for the rehearsal process - I had already made the casting and location decisions, I had decided we weren't going to cut (it's a shorter play anyway), and we wanted to see how much the words and Shakespeare really could direct us. Rather pleasingly, it turned out that we were also an evenly split six women and six men, and that a man and a woman was assigned for each pair of roles (to be decided for on the night by the flip of a coin). The location was the Hawke Sea Scout Hall, known locally as 'The Ship', built in 1943, a wooden building on stilts in Cox's Bay, so the tide was at a different level every night, sometimes almost up to the balcony, sometimes mud flats. We ran our own bar before and after the show and cooked brownies to sell every day, so we were in the space and meeting the audience as they came in (no hiding in dressing rooms). We constructed seats and tables made out of beer crates, and played in and amongst the audience. Simon Coleman gave us his designing expertise, pulling together all our ideas into something cohesive, and we filled the ceiling and beams with muslin and shells and bits of wreckage that twinkled and clattered in the breeze from the sea. Ariel (also completely covered in stretch muslin) dived up and down from the beams on stretchier, stronger pieces of fabric.

Working completely director-less was very challenging to say the least - but I'm glad we did it, if only to learn why we needed one, and what we missed about having one. There is something particularly raw about this way of working (using verse, playing in unpredictable conditions, having to be responsive and flexible) that means one has to bring a great deal of oneself to the work - there's very little to hide behind. And in a way, the role of the director in this context is to be a kind of rock, an omphalos holding the centre while everything else is in flux - holding the nerve and belief of the company. These are big plays, and I think, not to be underestimated in the psychic charge that they carry. The biggest tempest in the play is arguably the one between Prospero's ears, until he finally realises at the last minute that it would be inhuman not to forgive his enemies. And also, like any physical-spiritual (alchemical?) practice, the work was having an effect on us, I think, holding us to a level of integrity and honesty that frequently felt at odds with the pressures of selling the show within a capitalist framework. I'm sure we're not the first and won't be the last to feel that burn and tension.

Thankfully, the company didn't completely explode, and we did make it back to shore, and make quite a successful show. The audiences seemed to have a ball, we began to get a lot of people coming for repeat viewings. I wrote an article for Shakespeare Globe Centre NZ newsletter with a few more details  about the show here. The show won the Metro Magazine Best of Auckland, Best Outside-the-Box Venue, and Trygve Wakenshaw won Best Emerging Actor for his Ariel/Trinculo. I felt very happy meeting people before and after the show who had never been to a play, and that it was enjoyed by five year olds and ninety-five year olds alike.



PROSPERO or GONZALO.................................Sylvia Rands  /  Stuart Devenie 
ANTONIO or FERDINAND........................Arthur Meek   /  Madeleine Hyland

ARIEL or TRINCULO...........................Brooke Williams  /  Trygve Wakenshaw 

ALONSO or CALIBAN..................................Jacob Tamaiparea  / Colleen Davis

MIRANDA or SEBASTIAN.....................Laurel Devenie  / Daniel Mainwaring  

STEPHANO or BOATSWAIN...........................Frank Brown / Kate Simmonds 



“Innovative and exciting theatre…Bravo!”- Nik Smythe, Theatreview

“As a night out it was a pleasure to be in the company of such welcoming hosts so passionate about taking their audience on a theatrical journey…this is a group worth watching” - Shannon Huse, NZ Herald


"A glorious and robust production…an inspired setting"  -  John Daly-Peoples, National Business Review

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