“It is very much a role you have to try to mature into. In other words, fairly difficult,” says John Lingard about his role as Prospero. “He is very hard to pin down; he seems to turn on a dime. Angry one minute, kind and avuncular the next.”
Prospero is one of the main characters in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the upcoming Cape Breton University Dramagroup production.
The play is a delirious blend of magic, romance, farce, and revenge where the mystical and the mundane co-exist side by side.
“He (Prospero) is full of what seems a righteous desire to avenge himself on his brother Antonio, but there are a lot of clues which suggest that he, Prospero, virtually abdicated from his dukedom to sit in his library,” Lingard explains. “I directed an outdoor production of The Tempest at the University of Western Ontario. This is the first time I have acted in the play, and this is of course my first Prospero. It is very much a role you have to try to mature into. In other words, fairly difficult. The verse Shakespeare gives him to speak is amazing, to say the least.”
Lingard has been a theatre professional and taught drama and literature before he retired from the CBU faculty a couple of years ago. For the Dramagroup, he directed many major productions, including plays by Shakespeare and Ibsen, as well as acting in many more plays, including Shylock in The Merchant Of Venice.
“Miranda (his daughter) and Ariel (his faerie servant) seem to bring out his best side, whereas Antonio and Caliban (his monsterish drudge) push him to the dark side,” Lingard says. “There is a debate about how dark his magic has been. I think he has gone quite a long way towards the edge of ‘forbidden’ magic, which may explain his willingness to renounce his magic powers at the end.”
“He seems to forgive everyone at the end, but his last words to his brother are: ‘I do forgive, unnatural though you are.'” He says about Prospero’s journey: “I have found his relationships with Miranda and Ariel the best way of keeping some kind of consistent thread–a way of maturing into the role, in your phrase–and of showing some change in his character, from ‘vengeance’ to ‘virtue’, to use his own words.”
This production of The Tempest at the CBU Boardmore Theatre has been adapted and directed by Scott Sharplin. It opens on Thursday, November 24, with a “pay what you can” or admission by food bank donation. Then there two more performances on Friday, November 25, and Saturday, November 26. All three of these shows are at 7 pm.
From Monday, November 28 to December 1, there are morning performances for local schools at 10 am.
Three more public performances take place on Friday, December 2, and Saturday, December 3, at 7 pm, and Sunday, December 4, at 2 pm.
Tickets are available at the CBU Playhouse Box Office, Monday to Friday, 1 pm to 5 pm, and one hour before show time, or by calling the box office at 563-1652.