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Carleton College Opens New Theater with Production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”

October 24, 2011

Carleton College’s new theater at the Weitz Center for Creativity will see its inaugural production this week with the Carleton Players’ presentation of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” Performances will take place nightly at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27 through Saturday, Oct. 29, along with a final matinee on Sunday, Oct. 30 at 2:30 p.m. This production is free and open to the public; reservations can be made by calling (507) 222-4471 or by visiting online at go.carleton.edu/tempres.

Believed by critics and scholars to be Shakespeare’s last play, “The Tempest” is set on a remote enchanted island, where Prospero (Carleton junior Daniel Peck, Olathe, Kan.), the exiled Duke of Milan, plots to restore his daughter Miranda (senior Caitlin Unumb, Arlington Heights, Ill.) to her rightful place, using illusion and skillful manipulation. The eponymous tempest brings to the island Prospero’s usurping brother Antonio (junior Chris Densmore, Williamstown, Mass.) and the complicit Alonso (first-year student Patrick Stephen, Duluth, Minn.), King of Naples. There, his machinations bring about the revelation of Antonio’s low nature, the redemption of Alonso, and the marriage of Miranda to Alonso’s son, Ferdinand (first-year student Josh Davids, Seattle). The production also features Carleton students Chelsea Lau ’12 (Hastings, Neb.) as Ariel, Connor Lane ’13 (Mendota Heights, Minn.) as Caliban, Ben Stroup '14 (Pittsburgh) as Gonzalo, Freddy Stein '14 (Sherwood, Ore.) as Adrian, Simon Lansberg '14 (Guilford, Conn.) as Francisco, Alec Scott '14 (Kensington, Calif.) as Trinculo, and first-year student Brady Soglin (Evanston, Ill.) as Stephano.

Honoring the new College’s brand new theater, “The Tempest” is being directed by Ed Berkeley, Carleton Class of 1966 and a faculty member at the famed Juilliard School in New York City since 1987. Berkeley is also director at the Willow Cabin Theater Company and the Aspen Opera Theater Company. While focusing on opera at Juilliard, Berkeley has directed Shakespearean productions for the New York Shakespeare Festival as well as works by such playwrights as Tennessee Williams, Derek Walcott and Israel Horovitz.

Berkeley said he was contacted over a year ago about directing the inaugural production at the Weitz Center and responded with “a fast yes.” While he reports the new theater seems “friendly in feel,” Berkeley acknowledged that no one has yet experienced the space with an audience.

“For years, everyone will be discovering this theater—and its remarkable equipment—which offers challenges that should stimulate students’ imagination,” Berkeley said. “The Weitz Center’s bringing theater, dance and CAMS into one building will encourage exciting collaborations among the arts.”

Berkeley notes that the idea to make “The Tempest” the first production at the Weitz Center for Creativity came “as a result of Carleton’s wanting to do something that could show off the students and the new space’s capabilities” and that the play “seemed an obvious choice with its music and magic” as well as the approaching 400th anniversary of its premiere. “The play’s theme of renewal, of looking into the future was very appealing,” Berkeley says.

“The Tempest,” which Berkeley said has never been produced at Carleton before “to anyone’s memory,” includes the participation of over 75 students, including 45 on stage as well as those involved with set design, costumes, music, choreography and other aspects of the production.

Costumes are the creation of resident designer, Mary Ann Kelling; lighting is under the direction of the College's new resident lighting designer, Jeff Bartlett; and, in an exciting new venture, the set was created by a class of students under the guidance of Stephen Mohring, associate professor of art.

For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact the Carleton College Office of College Relations at (507) 222-4308. Reservations may be made by calling (507) 222-4471 or at http://go.carleton.edu/tempres. The Weitz Center for Creativity is located on Third Street East near College Street South in Northfield.

Written by Jacob Cohn '13