LSM Newswire

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Shakespeare season opens with aboriginal theme

The work of Shakespeare will prove its timelessness once again this summer when Mount Royal's Shakespeare in the Park (SITP) stages a fresh and strikingly relevant production of The Tempest with an aboriginal theme.

"I have always loved and wanted to do The Tempest, and I've been looking for the right context for the play," says Martin Fishman, artistic director of SITP, which kicks off its 21st season on July 3 at Prince's Island Park.

"We ended up going with an aboriginal theme in order to explore the different images we have of aboriginal people, and to showcase the best talent in the aboriginal community," he says.

A co-production with Mount Royal's Iniskim Centre dedicated to supporting aboriginal students and promoting their cultures the play tells the story of Prospero, an exiled duke who takes over an island and enslaves its native inhabitants.

Fishman's interpretation will feature aboriginal dancers and drummers, as well as actor Telly James in the role of Prospero's slave, the downtrodden Caliban.

"I'm pretty excited because, essentially, native theatre and mainstream theatre are coming together in this production," says James, a graduate of Mount Royal's Theatre Arts Performance Diploma program. "And as a native person, I definitely see relevance in Shakespeare's story. It's relevant because he deals with human nature. The settings can change, the times change, but human nature doesn't change."

Fishman adds that Shakespeare is extraordinary partly because his plays are open to a vast array of interpretations. "The language is remarkable, the characters so rich and the stories so universal that they speak to your heart.

"I think a lot of people still come to Shakespeare with fear and trepidation but, when we present it in a way that makes sense to them, the audience comes away with total understanding."

This season, SITP will also bring a new perspective to The Merry Wives of Windsor by setting the comedy in the 1950s. "If Shakespeare wrote a sit-com, this would be it," Fishman says, laughing. A noon-hour production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) will also run from August 616, starting at 12:10 p.m.

Mount Royal's 2008 Shakespeare in the Park season
The Tempest
The Merry Wives of Windsor

Dates: July 3August 23 (no Sunday performances)
Time: 7 p.m. nightly
Location: Prince's Island Park

For more information, visit www.myshakespeare.ca or call 440-6374.

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