By KAREN WELLS
BOYD’S COVE — The spirit of Shakespeare will mingle with that of the Beothuk this summer when the New World Theatre Project (NWTP) presents The Tempest.
Based in Cupids, the NWTP marked its inaugural season in the summer of 2010 as part of the Cupids 400 celebrations marking the arrival of John Guy to the Newfoundland shore in 1610 and colonization at Cupids.
Keeping with the legacy of John Guy, the 2012 production of the NWTP will mark the 400th anniversary of John Guy’s party making peaceful contact with the Beothuk. The Tempest will be the basis for this adaptation that will include this historical event.
“The project is inspired by that event,” said Jeannette Lambermont-Morey, the interim artistic director of the NWTP and director of The Tempest. “We are using as a basis Shakespeares’ play The Tempest and we are very faithful to that plan and the reason we can be is that Shakespeare was talking in that play about the experience of Europeans coming to the New World — it’s already there — the groundwork is laid in the play itself.”
Ms. Lambermont-Morey provided a general overview of the play. The main character of Prospero (to be played by Greg Malone) and his daughter have been banished to a remote island, unnamed in the play in the New World. He’s been living there all these years wishing to get revenge for this having been done to him.
“Shakespeare inhabits the island with spirit characters, so there is a lot of room for interpretation for these characters,” said Ms. Lambermont-Morey.”So having placed this New World in Newfoundland, on the rock, our spirit would become the Beothuk.
“Ariel (Prospero’s spirit helper to be played by Cathy Elliott) we’ve been calling a grandmother spirit. Ariel is often portrayed as a young little nymph, so we’ve gone very radically different with this character and one of the reasons for that is because what happens in the play is Ariel teaches Prospero a massive lesson – the lesson he needs to learn and the reason there is a play is he needs to learn that revenge isn’t everything. He has to understand that there is forgiveness to be had. We thought that was an ironic springboard for us.”
Ms. Elliott, who is Mi’kmaq, is also the Aboriginal consultant and creative collaborator for this production. She is very interested in exploring the theme of forgiveness.
“It’s kind of like the theme of forgiveness is a big one and it is ironic especially to do with conciliation and just all the modern day perspective – there is a reflection that happens – there is this echo I call it,” she said. “Ariel is a Beothuk spirit, but she speaks pretty much in native tongues and she represents the spirit of this rock, of this territory and this nation and the nations that are here.
“So it makes sense in the spirit of all the forgiveness, themes about autonomy, themes about ownership. People in these parties have special ownership of the island, and for this character, what she represents is the honouring of the people that were here and are here and the original inhabitants of Newfoundland and Labrador and for my sake all of Mi’kmaqy.”