As Belfast gears up for what will be the largest Shakespeare production the city has ever seen, Belfast Tempest at T13 20-23 April, as part of global events to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, here are some interesting facts about the forthcoming production:
1. Belfast’s only intercultural theatre company Terra Nova productions presents Belfast Tempest, 20-23rd April, at T13, Titanic Quarter, as part of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (23rd April). It features over 250 citizens who will join a professional international team in a show that will span 150 years of the City’s history, from Belfast’s 19th Century shipping greatness to our modern intercultural future.
2. Six performances will take place over four days with a closing night performance on the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, 23rd April. The shows include two matinee performances on Friday 22nd and Saturday 23rd April.
3. Belfast Tempest is a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s final play – The Tempest. It takes all the key themes of the play – love, revenge, forgiveness and magic and sets it in the context of the 150 years history of the City Of Belfast. Whilst it will be in Shakespeare’s language it will be Shakespeare with a Belfast accent.
4. In brief – the story revolves around the central character Prospero (played by Belfast actor James Doran) and his daughter Miranda (played by emerging Belfast actress Debra Hill). Driven by revenge, for being usurped from his dukedom, Prospero uses magic to create a tempest which ship wrecks his enemies to his island. Using magic he plots their demise which soon turns to forgiveness and results in his daughter marrying his enemy’s son – Ferdinand (played by black British actor Parys Jordan).
5. The production, which has taken months to create, has brought together over 250 people from across all sections of the community. From choirs, dancers, actors, drummers, set designers, community participants and volunteers.
6. The location for the performances on 20-23rd April is the ‘industrial cathedral’ T13. Usually associated with being a skate park, located in the heart of Titanic Quarter, it is the ideal location to create the unique world of Belfast Tempest.
7. The show will feature specially composed live music and holographic surround sound to immerse the audience in the Belfast Tempest experience.
8. The spectacular set uses reclaimed and recyclable items and is reflective of a ship wreck and an island. Audiences are invited to wrap up warm, bring a cushion and supplies and take a seat on rafters for a theatre in the round experience. The island features 30 tonnes of sand, 70 handmade ‘giant’s causeway’ columns and two ponds containing many litres of water, over one hundred books (wooden and real) and 600 sheets of gold leaf……but you will have to come and see what that’s being used for!
9. As part of the casting a social media ‘open audition’ was held to search for a young, upcoming actress to play the role of Miranda – #Iam Miranda – the role is being played by emerging West Belfast actress Debra Hill.
10. Whilst remaining reverential to the Bard’s play, Belfast Tempest’s artistic director and writer Andrea Montgomery has created a modern interpretation. This includes the creation of four female lead roles which were traditionally male (Alonso becomes Alonsa played by black British actress Nicola Gardner; Antonino becomes Antonia played by Belfast actress Jo Donnelly; Stephano becomes Stephana played by Belfast actress Nuala McKeever; Gonzalo becomes Gonzala played by NI actress Moninne Dargan), lead parts for black and Asian cast members, performers with disabilities, and a unique 25 minute ‘wedding masque’ sequence created and devised by Associate Director Tom Finlay alongside the participating citizens of Belfast.
The Belfast Tempest project is supported by five partners; Terra Nova Productions, T13, ACSONI, Libraries NI and Crescent Arts Centre. Belfast Tempest is one of seven Creative Belfast projects funded by Belfast City Council and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland through the Creative and Cultural Belfast Fund.
For more information go to www.belfastcity.gov.uk/creativebelfast and www.artscouncil-ni.org or keep up-to-date on social media using the hashtag #CreativeBelfast, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/creativebelfast and on Twitter @Cre8tiveBelfast. With additional support from British Council NI (#ShakeperareLives), Ulster Scots-Agency and Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland.