K-Town Street Beat is a weekly segment, featuring KRBD news intern Marco Torres talking to community members. This week, Marco chatted with audience members following last weekend’s First City Player’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” is one of the famous playwright’s most adapted plays to date. Theater companies have taken “The Tempest” and reworked its setting, focus, characters and more. Here in Ketchikan, First City Players is one such theater company. And director Ty Hewitt’s production – an Alaskan take on Shakespeare – appears to have pleased his home town.
Hewitt cut the script – normally a two and a half hour play – down to 90-minutes. He also reworked words of the script to match its Alaska setting. The characters, dressed like imperialist Russians, are stranded nobles on the island of Revillagigedo during the time of Russian exploration in Alaska.
This week on K-Town Street Beat, I caught four audience members after Saturday’s show at Totem Bight State Park. This week’s Street Beat question: “Did the Ketchikan adaptation of The Tempest make the play more accessible to you?”
“Oh I think it did,” said Rebecca Valentine. “This was an incredible job tonight. I was blown away. I am a huge Shakespeare fan, but this adaption was incredible. The acting was wonderful, and this setting just was awesome.”
Elizabeth Bolling said the venue added to the atmosphere of the play, which was performed at the Totem Bight clan house.
“Yes! It did. And to be honest, I think it was more interesting than the original. And I’ve seen the original in a production in Europe, and this was better.”
“What about this play made it better?”
“The first thing was that I knew the people in the play. The second was that there was an atmosphere in the story telling that was so much more magical – probably because it was in the clan house.”
Micah Long agreed that Ty Hewitt’s changes to aspects such as setting helped the production.
“I loved that it was in a different venue than usual. I think that that really added to the play and made the change in the play that much more interesting and effective.”
Inge Kummant also enjoyed the changes. She noted a change in character focus, and also praised the visuals of the production.
“I absolutely loved this production. I saw a production a few years ago and I’m sorry to say it dragged a bit. This play really focused on Prospero. It was visually fantastic and the setting was awesome for it.”
All in all, the audience members seem to love not just the play itself, but the unique Alaska take of this Shakespeare classic.
Full disclosure: news intern Marco Torres plays the role of Ferdinand in Ty Hewitt’s production.
The Tempest will run a second weekend, with sold-out shows Friday and Saturday, the 14th and 15th, at the Totem Bight State Park clan house. Those still interested in possibly seeing the show can wait stand-by at Totem Bight at 6:30 p.m. House opens at 7 p.m. Show begins at 7:30 p.m.