The Tempest - Hastings on Hudson Schools

The Tempest Transformation Assignment
The Tempest is one of Shakespeare's most "wide open" plays. Over the last 400 years, and
especially during this century, the play has been understood as a fairy tale, a love story, a
political treatise, Shakespeare's "New World Play" and an autobiographical allegory for his
career as a playwright. The play involves love, loss, revenge, redemption, and magic; it touches
on issues of race, class, gender, colonialism, and power – natural, supernatural, and political.
This assignment asks you to imagine that a major motion picture studio has decided to come to
Hastings High School in search of a group of young filmmakers to help them with their latest
project - a new version of The Tempest that will satisfy the most passionate and knowledgeable
Shakespeare fans and thrill people who’ve never heard of or believe they won’t like
Shakespeare. In order to do this, they want a Tempest that is both original and unique AND
recognizable as The Tempest, one with a new and striking setting and approach while also
retaining much of what makes the play so appealing, including its language. The studio imagines
that the the film to be set in America, though any “New World” will do, and it may take place at
any point in time – past, present, or future.
Most importantly, they have invited you and your partners to “pitch” your vision the play to
them, focusing on the specific act of the play that your group’s been assigned. While you may
refer to moments from other acts to provide context or to explain your thinking about the act
you’ve been assigned, all the work you are responsible for should focus on that one act.
In making your 20-minute pitch to the studio – and to the class – you will need to:
1. Articulate in writing an insightful, sophisticated “Vision Statement” in which you
explain - in clear compelling terms - your sense of the act’s central issue(s) or
ideas(s) and your strategies for bringing these things to life for your audience.
Your vision statement should include a discussion of:
a. How the setting you’ve chosen - in terms of both time and geographyserves your vision of the play and your acts most significant characters,
relationships, tensions (binaries), and issues.
b. Several (two to four) key moments from your assigned act that will serve
your vision of The Tempest and “wow” your audience.
c. Your plans for dealing with some of the play’s unique and challenging
elements in making your points about the characters, relationships, themes
and conflicts that interest you most.
2. Provide meaningful pre-production work – story boards, a casting wish list,
costume ideas, etc. – and promotional materials – posters, press releases, trailers,
soundtracks, merchandise – that will help capture the essence of the act you’ve
been assigned and generate excitement (and $) for the film.
3. Present a brief but significant scene from your act of the play. This scene must be
at least 100 lines long; it must be done in costume and primarily in the language
Shakespeare used, and, most importantly, it should highlight the benefits of your
unique approach to the act.
4. Include “meaningful references” to the work you’ve done with Debbie Yasinsky
and the folks at the Hudson River Museum.
5. Conclude with a “take away” – a brief presentation in which you summarize what
you’ve shared with the class and discuss what you’d like members of your
audience to be thinking and talking about as they leave the theatre, and, perhaps,
what questions or issued raised by the play you hope will stay with the audience
well into the future.
A few questions to consider:
Which of the play’s conflicts or structures (Fairy Tale, Sci-Fi adventure, Political Thriller,
Coming-of-Age story, Family Drama, etc.) is most interesting to you, and how will your
setting highlight this reading of the play?
Is your “island” really an island? In what ways is it secluded or isolated?
Is your “tempest” a literal storm? Is your tempest figurative? Is it both? How will you
present this tempest?
Which binaries seem to drive the act of the play that your group’s been assigned? How will
you negotiate these binaries?
What is the nature of Prospero’s “magic”? Is it literal, figurative (political, financial, social,
familial, etc.)? How will we see him control this magic?
How will you present Ariel? Caliban? How will Prospero exert control over them?
Warner Bros.
Pictures ™
A new spin on the timely classic
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