Sex, Magic, and Illusion: The World of the Tempest pre-show discussion

Jordan Morris, For the Review

On Thursday night, an hour before the grand showing of The Tempest began, a pre-performance talk was held in the lobby of Ford Hall. Shakespeare scholar Dr. Daniel Pollack-Pelzner and Joanna Buchholz, a senior and English major here at Linfield, held this discussion.
The aim of this talk was to offer some background to Shakespeare’s play in order to give viewers a better understanding of The Tempest as a whole. It was also a chance for members attending the play to learn about some of the differences in our show here at Linfield, versus how Shakespeare’s original production was given.
A few of the changes made to The Tempest included the all of the costumes and set parts being made from recycled materials. “The reused materials are meant to represent taking old things and turning them into something new and beautiful.”
Another difference from Shakespeare’s original play was the rather than make the spirit called Ariel solely male, he was played by both a man and a women. The reason behind this was because in the original performance, Ariel was always battling with his gender and therefore it was decided to make Ariel literally be both in Linfield’s performance.
The discussion was split into two halves based on the title of the play, “Sex, Magic and Illusion: The World of the Tempest.” Buchholz spoke about the Magic and Illusion themes of The Tempest and Dr. Pollack-Pelzner spoke about the reasons for the “sex” portion of the title.
Joanna talked about how she worked with all of the actors within the performance and helped them portray their characters in the most accurate ways as possible.
As a way to connect this year’s PLACE theme, Joanna spoke about all the elements of air, water, earth, and air and how they each played their own part in the performance: Fire represented lust, water stood for empathy, air was optimism and being overly excited and lastly earth which represented what makes us innately human.
Joanna also talked about the uses of alchemy within the play. “Alchemy is what gives humans eternal life and it unmistakably upsets the balance of the natural world,” Joanna said.
Pollack-Pelzner’s talked about how a large portion of the play was centralized around controlling female values. For example how wishing the play Miranda’s father continued to hint at keeping his daughter’s virtue safe. Lastly Pollack-Pelzner spoke about all of the obstacles and conspiracies that occur within the play.