The Royal Shakespeare Company continues its commitment to creating live theatre for young audiences with its First Encounters with Shakespeare production of The Tempest – Shakespeare’s magical last play of fun, fantasy and sorcery.  Directed by Aileen Gonsalves, and aimed at 8-13 year olds, the production will open in January 2017 in Midlands schools and the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, before embarking on a seven week UK tour of schools and regional theatres.  UK locations include Warwick, Birmingham, Honley, York, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke-on-Trent, Cornwall, Blackpool, Middlesbrough, Newcastle upon Tyne, London and Northampton.  Details at the end of the release.

The cast includes: Alison Arnopp (Stephana/Sebastienne), Laura Cairns (Trincula/Alonsa), Elly Condron (Miranda), Caleb Frederick (Antonio), Sarah Kameela Impey (Ariel), Matthew McPherson (Caliban), Darren Raymond (Prospero) and Oliver Towse (Ferdinand).

The Tempest tells the story of the exiled Duke, Prospero, who, on a crazy island swirling with sounds, uses magic to create a home within the wilderness.  As his beloved daughter Miranda falls in love with a shipwrecked stranger from their homeland, she rebels against Prospero’s power, and he must risk forgiving those who betrayed him, or lose her forever.

This gripping story of how love and reconciliation can conquer fear and control is an ideal first experience of Shakespeare for anyone aged 8 and above.  Using Shakespeare’s original language, this edited version lasts 90 minutes, and includes an interactive introduction to the world of the play.

Aileen Gonsalves said:

“We are interested in exploring and immersing the audience in the magic of the island that the characters are stranded on. The strange creature Caliban confides, “The isle is full of noises.”  We want our young audience to help us create this enchanted place, bringing their own homemade instruments and joining in the singing with the 8 strong cast, as they fight for power under the control of the all mighty Prospero.  His daughter Miranda, and the exquisitely “delicate” spirit Ariel show that only love can set them all free. The actors will respond uniquely to each new audience, who will use whatever is at their disposal – their voices, bodies, imaginations and each other -  to join with us to create this unique “rough magic” version of Shakespeare’s most funny, touching and fantastical tale!”

Aileen trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama. Previous credits for the RSC include Assistant Director to Tim Supple on Midnight’s Children and Gregory Doran on All’s Well That Ends Well.  Most recently Aileen has written and directed a piece in association with the LSO for The Barbican, called Play On Shakespeare. She has been Head of the MA in Acting for the last four years at Arts Educational Schools London, which she left last September to work as Associate Director at the RSC working alongside Gregory Doran on his production of The Tempest.  Aileen is Artistic Director of Butterfly Theatre, a company which specialises in site responsive productions of Shakespeare across the UK and Europe.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, said:
“Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience which can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for all of our lives.  This tour of The Tempest will bring the excitement and wonder of Shakespeare’s work right into the heart of schools, regional theatres and local communities. Our First Encounters with Shakespeare tour is testament to the profound impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on the life chances of students - partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part."