Shakespeare’s last play (written in 1610-11) and maritime romance of shipwrecks, sorcery, and spirits will be staged by the NBYT Teen Company in June on the grounds of the New Britain Museum of American Art. Set at sea and on a remote island, the NBYT production will be inspired by the Connecticut shipping and whaling industries of the nineteenth century.
The Museum has been a longtime supporter of NBYT, and this is the third collaboration bringing an American-set Shakespeare to the museum. In 2015, NBYT produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream set in the American revolutionary period; and in 2017, the theater set Romeo and Juliet in 1967’s Summer of Love.
Many Shakespeare scholars believe that The Tempest was inspired by British colonization of America, which was occurring in the early seventeenth century near the end of the playwright’s life. With our state’s own maritime history, it made sense to set Shakespeare’s nautical play at the height of Connecticut’s whaling and shipping industries.
The play stars nineteen young men and women of mostly high school age. The challenging lead role of Prospero, a sorcerer and the former Duke of Milan, is played by seventeen year-old Eva LaRue-Barber. This gender-blind casting extends to other roles in the production as well. The play is directed by Brooke Ferguson and Carmine Lavieri.
Performances are on the grounds of the New Britain Museum of American Art at 56 Lexington Street, and the rain location will be indoors. The museum is adjacent to Walnut Hill Park, designed in the nineteenth century by Frederick Law Olmsted, best known as the landscape architect of Central Park in New York City.
Performance dates will be Thursday, June 20, at 6:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, June 21 and 22, at 7:00 p.m.; and Sunday, June 23 at 2:00 p.m. Patrons are welcome to bring chairs or blankets for seating. A $10 donation is suggested, but guests are welcome to pay what they can, and donations in any amount are graciously accepted. Concessions will be available, but bringing food or drink is welcome.