Shakespeare in the Park – The Tempest

On Friday, 15th May, the Faculty of Literature in English brought the Year 3 students to view SRT’s staging of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, as part of its annual staging of Shakespeare in the Park. Students were drawn into Prospero’s world of sorcery and fairytale improbabilities, where nothing is what it seems.

Janice Yap from O7 shares with us her experiences:

Around me the coolness soothe the day’s cares away. From beneath me rose a sharp, yet refreshing, scent of the soft lawn upon which we spread a picnic meal before the ‘curtain’ rises for the first Act.

Can you guess why I was sitting on the ground in a park?

To watch a play. (I bet you couldn’t guess that!)

I’ve only watched two Shakespearean plays in my lifetime – the first was “Julius Caesar”, and the second was Singapore Repertory Theatre’s “Shakespeare in the Park – The Tempest”.

The first wasn’t bad, but towards the end my neighbours found me nodding off to dreamland. Unfortunately, by the time I woke up, Caesar was already dead! Met a bloody end, at the hands of his beloved friend no less!

The second play that followed was worlds away – it was so exciting that my heart was still racing even three hours after its end! I nearly didn’t manage to go to bed that night.

I believe it wasn’t the acting that caused the difference (both acting companies were really devoted!), but because I was fortunate enough to watch the second as a “Shakespeare in the Park” rendition.

I can hear you ask, “How much different can watching a play outdoors really be? Come on, we’ve been watching plays in theatres for years!”

Oh, it’s so very different! The stiffness and formality are not present when not enclosed within the walls of an actual theater building. I feel so free to whisper to my friends at exciting (or confusing) parts. When laser-emitting bloodhounds pop out from the stage ground & gave my heart a good scare, I am free to scream and I don’t have to stifle it. When Prospero launches into a bittersweet yearning for what he has lost, I am free to follow his gaze into the deep black purple and sparking silver in the night sky and wonder. And I can dig my toes into the cool tufts of grass while imagining myself in the island’s lush jungles. And I can munch on food, which is great, because a full stomach has been scientifically proven to facilitate better thinking – and hence a better understanding of this great play! Nature is a marvellous theatre fit for the king of all plays, and this time, it truly brought out Shakespeare’s genius.

I can almost hear you sigh, “But it’s not original enough!”
Oh, but Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed in an open-air theatre. Some outdoor humidity would comparably do better by adding a touch of reality, especially for a play set on an island!

Hopefully you yourself will be able to experience a “Shakespeare in the Park” to see what really makes it so special. I’m raring to give it another go next year!

Janice Yap O7


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