The Tempest poised to make a splash at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016
Shakespeare's The Tempest has washed ashore in Great Yarmouth where an ambitious flooded production of the play opens tonight. Arts correspondent EMMA KNIGHTS finds out more from the show's director William Galinsky.
'It's like Shakespeare on Ice but a few degrees warmer,' jokes William Galinsky during rehearsals for The Tempest, one of the headline shows for this year's Norfolk and Norwich Festival.
Mr Galinksy has overseen the full festival programme for the last five years in his role as artistic director, but this year he is also the director of The Tempest - and he has big plans for the production.
For in this 400th anniversary year of the death of William Shakespeare, the show at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome will see the words of the great wordsmith played out amid aquatic spectacle, impressive circus feats and other surprises.
'Our plan is if you have seen The Tempest before we want you to feel as if you have never seen it before. It's a really contemporary and exciting production with some wonderful surprises. If you think Shakespeare is not your bag, think again. It will be Shakespeare and the Hippodrome like you have never seen them before,' said Mr Galinsky, who previously spent about a decade as a theatre director working with companies such as the Royal Shakespeare Company.
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The tale of The Tempest sees a violent sea storm shipwreck a king and his court onto a remote island where nothing is as it seems.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on that same mysterious island a magician called Prospero begins to tell his daughter Miranda the story of who they really are and how this place became their home.
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It is a watery story full of magic, enchantment and intrigue, and Mr Galinsky said when he first saw Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, complete with its famous swimming pool stage in 2011, he just knew it would be a wonderful setting for the show.
'This production would not have existed without the Hippodrome,' he said, adding that he has been consulting with the Jay family, who have run the venue since the 1970s, to realise the full theatrical potential of the building for The Tempest.
'We spent a lot of time with the Jay family coming to see their shows, asking their advice,' he said.
'We are going to be using all of the capabilities of the venue - the water aspect and the swimming pool features quite centrally in it.
'It's like Shakespeare on Ice but a few degrees warmer.
'There's quite a lot of water, but we are also looking at some of the other features of the building - but I will leave that as a surprise!
'Come and see it. We are really excited to know what you think.'
And while Mr Galinsky is tight-lipped about much of the production, he has revealed that, in tribute to the rich circus history of the venue, circus art will feature in the show.
'We very much wanted to create a production of The Tempest that speaks to the idea of magic and carnival and of the ringmaster and the circus. Although it's not a circus Tempest, it's a Tempest that sits very well in this venue,' he said.
Three performers from the Norwich-based Lost in Translation circus company will be joining the 11 actors in the cast which is led by Tony Guilfoyle, a long-term Robert Lepage collaborator who is playing the magician Prospero.
There will also be an element of Kung Fu mixed into the the show, with the company working with Norfolk-based Sifu Adie Gray, a Wing Chun Kung Fu master and student of Ip Man's son, the master who taught Bruce Lee.
Behind the scenes Mr Galinsky has also been working with designer Laura Hopkins - whose credits include the Black Watch production at the 2013 festival - since September and his creative team also includes lighting designer Mike Brookes and composer Nick Powell.
The full spectacle of the show will be revealed at tonight's opening performance.
And with the promise of circus, an impressive watery setting and Kung Fu mixed together with the words of the Bard, this reimagining of The Tempest looks sure to set sail on a unique voyage through a Shakespearean classic.
The Tempest is at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome from May 9 to 21. The show lasts about 130 minutes plus interval. Tickets £8-£22.
n To book, and for more about this and other Norfolk and Norwich Festival events, visit www.nnfestival.org.uk or call the box office on 01603 766400.
n Tickets for The Tempest can also be booked through the Hippodrome box office on 01493 844172 or at www.hippodromecircus.co.uk
n There will be a post show talk led by director William Galinsky on Tuesday, May 17.
Do you have a festival story? Email arts correspondent Emma Knights at firstname.lastname@example.org