Last week, Yellow Stockings held auditions for their upcoming performance of Shakespeare’s, “The Tempest”. Individual auditions were held for both actors and dancers in the Scheuer Room of Kohlberg and the Troy Dance Lab. There was a great turnout of 31 people for 15 available roles, which consisted of 11 actors and 4 dancers. Director Wesley Han `18 noticed there was a lot of talent in the people who auditioned this year for the small cast. “Saying no to some of those performers was incredibly challenging for me; there were tremendously gifted people that I was forced to turn away. … I can think of a good few auditions off the top of my head where the auditionee had boatloads of talent but just wasn’t a good fit for [the role]. That’s something I always had a difficult time believing when auditions didn’t go my way as an actor, but now that I’ve directed a show or two, I’ve come to understand how often that really does happen.”
Han proposed “The Tempest” to the Drama Board at the end of the last semester. The work is filled with magic, wizards, and spirits, making it a favorite amongst Shakespeare lovers. Despite its popularity, Han saw an opportunity to interpret the work differently. “The spirits are what initially drew me in — too often, they’re portrayed by ordinary actors who move in ordinary ways. Audiences are forced to believe they’re magical beings solely by virtue of the text. I think we can do better.”
You may ask how one can interpret the works of Shakespeare differently after hundreds of performances. Han’s answer is simple: through the incorporation of dance. Han saw an opportunity to bring the characters to life in a whole different way. “Because of their greater physical ability, dancers can better capture all that is unearthly and supernatural about demons through movement, and so I now have a dancer portraying the role of the head spirit and an ensemble of dancers to portray the lesser spirits that serve under him.”
The auditions gave Han a lot to look forward to this semester. “I’m looking forward to working with such a talented cast of actors and dancers. Every single one of them blew me away during auditions. I’m also looking forward to taking Yellow Stockings to another level.”
Another perk of performing “The Tempest” is that Yellow Stockings gets to work on a larger, more intensive piece. This is slightly different from the group’s past work where their productions have been more relaxed, which has been an important element of getting people involved in theater. Han acknowledges the rigor that rehearsing for this performance will require but is hopeful in spite of the difficulty. “There are some high expectations in place, but I have a lot of faith in my actors. I know if we establish a trusting and compassionate rehearsal environment where we feel safe to explore and push our boundaries, we’ll go far.”
You can see “The Tempest” this spring in the Frear Ensemble Theatre from March 30 to April 1.