It is obvious when you look at our program for THE TEMPEST that we did not cast any one actor as Ariel. We obviously can’t just cut the role out because she’s very important to the story. So how did we go about having a show with no Ariel? Simple- we didn’t cast anyone as Ariel because we cast everyone as Ariel. Our whole ensemble, made up of 7 actors, collaborates to create the character. Whoever is not otherwise involved in a scene will make up the (at times disembodied or invisible) sprite. While unified in Ariel’s mission, each actor brings her to life in his/her own way, often creating parallels to their other roles. Lines are cleverly divided to push those connections further.
During the rehearsal process we literally built Ariel. Sometimes she’s a swarm of the actors, milling about on the stage or a hushed and calm presence more heard than seen. This process was long- we would spend hours on one scenario just to tear it apart and try something new- and our wonderful ensemble threw themselves wholeheartedly into this endeavor, working with Movement Directors Jacob Janssen and Raven Bonniwell until we got the physical manifestation of Ariel just right. At times she cowers to Prospero’s power or sometimes takes pleasure in carrying out his seemingly malicious requests. She can be one actor on another’s shoulders, multiple actors slinking around the border of the stage, or a face peeking out from a doorway or around a set piece.
Our Prospero, Nathan Bennett, is enjoying the challenge of playing to an Ariel that can take so many forms. “Each actor in the ensemble brings something of themselves to Ariel, lending her varying reactions to my own part.” For example, one actor can be defiant while another acquiesces, both being a part of Ariel at the same moment and lending her a conscious human quality. “When I was first approached with the concept of the multi-actor Ariel, I didn’t like it,” Bennett continues. “But after seeing it in action, on the stage and in our scene work, it makes so much sense to have Ariel be this bigger whirling presence. Now, I can’t imagine her as just one actor after having done this show because no one person could ever achieve so much.” As omniscient Prospero, Bennett has the opportunity to respond to the different iterations of Ariel throughout the play. These exchanges allow for the addition of so many levels to the relationship between the two characters and the living, breathing island we’ve created.
It’s difficult to describe just how well our Ariel works within the world of the play we’ve created. Come down and see it for yourself! Just 4 performances of THE TEMPEST remain until we must close on Sunday. Get your tickets online or stop by The Shop at Fort Fringe to purchase at the door the hour prior to any show. We can’t wait to see you there!