Shakespeare’s System

Shakespeare’s System
Greystones’ youth theatre explain their approach to tackling The Tempest

Having tackled the Avon laddy before with Juliet of Verona back in 2019, for December 2021, the young Greystonians are bravely taking on Shakespeare’s last offering, The Tempest.

But just how did they tackle this weird and wonderful play…?

On a glorious day early last summer, Ciarán Coogan and Aideen Walton took a walk above the North Beach in Greystones to discuss ideas for Making Waves Youth Theatre’s next venture, initially considering staging a production in the new park overlooking the sea.

They felt the location was perfect in so many ways for a play like Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which is set on an island and subject to the forces of the sea. However, as they investigated the logistics of an outdoor performance, the practical issues and obstacles involved (primarily associated with Covid restrictions) steered the staging to a more controlled and safer environment and, of course, quite naturally to The Whale theatre, the wonderful home of all their previous productions.

Aideen, with some trepidation at the task of editing Shakespeare’s work, adapted The Tempest for the young actors of Making Waves, trying to retain its spirit, language and structure and, at the same time, shortening the length of the play, conflating characters and removing a few less essential elements.

The magical quality of the play, its setting on a strange island away from societal norms where, without the usual conventions to hide behind, characters’ behaviours and motives stand out starkly, speaks to the strangeness of the last two years.

We have all been challenged to find a new ‘normal’, and, as inevitably happens in crises, both good and bad have emerged. These days, Shakespeare presents many challenges for both actors and audiences. But although the language can at first feel strange and foreign to our ears, the themes he investigates are universal and timeless. We can all identify with the emotions and situations he explores, no matter how foreign the setting in which they appear.

This is why Shakespeare continues to be relevant to us and why, whether we are watching the thwarted lovers in Romeo and Juliet or the destructive ambition of Macbeth, we are pulled right into the drama.

Working on The Tempest, Making Waves actors have risen to and bravely met many challenges, from Shakespearean language to outdoor rehearsals (weather permitting!), and from Covid restrictions (masks, numbers, etc.) to the fluctuating availability of members. Adapted by Aideen Walton, and skillfully directed and steered by Ciarán Coogan and Aoife Connolly, Making Waves are proud to present this dynamic and exciting production.

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