In the run up to Christmas, here’s a chance to catch something different: a production of The Tempest: Storm In A Teacup by Yellow Chair Productions. This is the closing production of the company’s 2013 Main season themed ‘Love and its Complexities’. Other productions included Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years and Neil LaBute’s Fat Pig.
Yellow Chair’s version of the Tempest: Storm In A Tea Cup is inspired by William Shakespeare’s final play, The Tempest. It deals with the thunderous and tempestuous storm, manifested by one man’s quest of justice. You are invited to revisit the story (and hear it over some tea). If you are not familiar with the Tempest, here it is in a very small nutshell: Prospero, a sorcerer and rightful Duke, and his daughter, Miranda, have been marooned on an island. Some years earlier, his brother, Antonio, usurped his throne and set the father daughter pair adrift in a boat. Years later, a ship approaches this island, carrying his usurpers. Prospero, with the help of a sprite named Ariel, summons a storm that wrecks the ship and brings the survivors ashore the island. Among them is Ferdinand, the son of King Alonso. Lulled to Prospero’s abode by the singing of Ariel; Ferdinand meets Miranda, who is enthralled with the young prince. The two fall in love and the story unfolds….
We asked the Producer, Mohamad Shaifulbahri and co-director, Kahirul Nizam to give us their two cents’ worth on their production:
Why the Tempest?
Khairul: A seemingly rather popular Shakespeare’s play, his last allegedly, I’ve been bombarded by teachers to study and analyze it in school. Somehow, ever since then, I have developed this love-hate relationship with the text. Take it as, me, confronting this particular Shakespeare text, and once and for all come to terms whether I love it or I hate it. It has been troubling, really.
And why is the byline “A Storm In A Teacup”? Is this a re-telling of the Tempest or are you following the play as Shakespeare wrote it?
Khairul: The byline ‘Storm in a teacup’ borrows as much as the idiom’s definition of blowing trivial things out of proportion and making it a big fuss; alluding to my love-hate relationship with this particular text. But within the play itself, the play connects to this particular idiom.
It is definitely a re-telling, a re-imagining of the text. Although we should thank Shakespeare for the narrative, which we’re sticking true to.
Without giving too much away, could you share more details? For example, are you locating the play in Singapore or somewhere else?
Khairul: The play deals with a certain anger and love, and the characters explores this love that is manacled by this anger (and vice versa). And, definitely it is not specifically located anywhere, okay maybe in our imagination–but really, we’ve taken the context out and it’s up to the audience to place it in a locale. The narrative is pretty much the same, but we’ve highlighted certain things and I think it’s just fair to let the audience map the dots together. We’re just revisiting the story and allowing the audience privy to the narrative and be voyeuristic.
Has Yellow Chair Productions done a Shakespeare play before? What are the challenges you face as producer / directors? And what are the challenges for the cast?
Shaiful: This is the first time Yellow Chair Productions is staging a Shakespearean work as part of our repertoire. That said, this is a re-imagining of The Tempest and to a certain extent, we hope that our production is one that is accessible for those who may be worried about understanding Shakespeare’s text. Being a community theatre group, we also felt that some of our audience may not have experienced Shakespeare before and this is an opportunity for both Yellow Chair and our audience to grow together, with the hopes of staging Shakespearean works in their original form.
The theme of your main season is entitled ” Love and its Complexities”. How does the Tempest fit in to your theme?
Khairul: There’re many problematic relationships within Shakespeare’s Tempest. Prospero-Miranda, Prospero-Caliban, Ariel-Caliban… there are just too many. The love might be carnal, paternal or even instinctive; the love webs, hatred, and entrapment in the relationship make it complex just complicated even from a voyeuristic perspective.
What’s in the pipeline for 2014/2015?
Shaiful: We are in the midst of finalizing our 2014 season but we’re happy to share that we’ll be staging a new version of a devised work we staged earlier in July called You Think, I Thought, Who Confirm, in March 2014. Our first Main Season production of 2014 will be in April 2014 but you’ll have to come watch The Tempest: Storm in a Teacup to be the first to find out what it is!
You can catch The Tempest: Storm In A Teacup at the Drama Centre Black Box from 12 to 15 December 2013. Tickets can be purchased from Ticketmash here.