005 – The Tempest, by William Shakespeare
The theatre is filled with crashing sounds and the flashing light of a tumultuous storm. Sailors can be heard shouting to each other to try to prevent their ship from splintering apart. We are aboard the King of Naple’s ship that is about to founder on a unknown island – an “isle full of noises, sounds and sweet airs” – a magical kingdom ruled over by a sorcerer and his apprentice, who are about to stage their own drama of romance and revenge.
This is Shakespeare’s late great masterpiece, The Tempest. It would be the last play the playwright would write by himself. It premiered at the court of James I in December 1611, and it is suggested that hereafter Shakespeare spent most of the remaining five years of his life in semi-retirement in Stratford.
To help us explore our first Shakespeare play we are joined by one of our finest actors, Tm McMullan. Tim knows Shakespeare from the inside, having appeared in many acclaimed productions, including most pertinently for these purposes as Prospero in the 2016 production of The Tempest at the Sam Wanamaker theatre at the Globe in London.
Tim McMullan is one of our most acclaimed and recognisable actors. He studied History at St Andrews University before training as an actor at RADA. His stage career comprises a number of iconic performances in Shakespeare, including Oberon at the RSC, Jacques at the Globe, Toby Belch in Twelfth Night and Enobarbus in Antony & Cleopatra at the National Theatre, and most pertinently for our purposes, as Prospero in the 2016 production of The Tempest at the Sam Wanamaker theatre, directed by Dominic Dromgoole in his last show as Artistic Director of the Globe.
Of course, Tim’s work encompasses much more than Shakespeare. He has worked with Cheek by Jowl, Complicite, and Mnemonic; performed at the Almeida, Donmar, Hampstead, and the West End, as well as in more than 20 plays at the National Theatre.
His film and TV work includes Shadowlands, 5th Element, The Queen, The Woman in Black, Foyle’s War, Brexit An Uncivil War, Melrose, The Crown, and of course Shakespeare in Love.
Tim recommended The Blind by Maurice Maeterlink.
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We have footnotes for this episode …
The Footnotes to our episode on The Tempest include information and observations on St Elmo’s Fire, the original shipwreck that may have been Shakespeare’s source, Art vs Nurture, Art vs Nature, and the poetry of the play.
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