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A Summary of THE TEMPEST

Let’s face it. The Tempest isn’t one of Shakespeare’s best known or most performed plays. It certainly isn’t one that most of us read in high school. (Schools like to work those tragedies, don’t they?)

So why are we producing The Tempest? Well, we were due for a comedy, and this tale of shipwrecks, sorcery, and spirits is a heck of a lot of fun. We also thought it was a great choice to set in the nineteenth century. (Our past Shakespeare productions have been a twentieth century Romeo and Juliet, an eighteenth century Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a post-apocalyptic Macbeth. So it was time to visit the 1800s.)

Look here for more details on auditions and our production. And look here for a list of characters. For a summary of the story, read on!

ACT I, scene i
Alonso, King of Naples, and his court are on a ship at sea, returning from his daughter’s wedding in Tunis. A tempest occurs. As the sailors onboard attempt to right the ship, the king and lords bemoan their fate, and get in the sailors’ way.

ACT I, scene ii
On an island, Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan, explains to his daughter Miranda how they came to live there. We are also introduced to Caliban, a mutinous slave and native of the island, and Ariel, a spirit who we learn created the tempest at Prospero’s command. Ferdinand, the king’s son, has been shipwrecked on the island and is lured by Ariel to meet Prospero and Miranda.

ACT II, scene i
King and court are washed ashore. Their clothes, however, are mysteriously dry. Gonzalo preaches optimism while Sebastian and Antonio mock him. As the rest of the court falls asleep around them, Sebastian and Antonio plot to murder the king. Just as they’re about to strike, everyone wakes up.

ACT II, scene ii
Caliban meets Stephano and Trinculo, servants of the king. The three hatch a plot to murder Prospero and take command of the island. The drunken servants introduce Caliban to alcohol.

ACT III, scene i
Ferdinand dutifully loads firewood for Prospero as he and Miranda get to know each other.

ACT III, scene ii
Ariel creates confusion and dismay between Stephano and Trinculo. Caliban advances his plot against Prospero. They are soon distracted by music, and wander off following it.

ACT III, scene iii
King and court are exhausted from searching the island for Ferdinand, at which point spirits appear and conjure a feast. Just as they’re about to eat, Ariel enters and accuses Sebastian, Antonio, and Alonso of their misdeeds. The three give chase, with others following.

ACT IV, scene i
Prospero gives his blessing to Ferdinand and Miranda and orders a masque with depictions of the goddesses Iris, Ceres, and Juno, during which he remembers the murder plot against him. He lays a trap for Caliban, Stephano, and Trinculo. They fall into it immediately.

ACT V, scene i
Ariel has imprisoned the king and his court. Prospero confronts and forgives them all for their wrongdoings, reunites king and prince, and gives a stirring final speech.

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