“We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” the exiled magician/politician Prospero tells the audience in Act IV of The Tempest, Shakespeare’s late romance. On June 13, Juilliard will mount a staged reading of it at Peter Jay Sharp Theater, some 400 years after the first recorded performance of the play.
The production, a benefit for the Drama Division, was conceived and directed by renowned stage director Richard Clifford, who will also take the roles of Caliban and Ferdinand. The play stars acclaimed classical actor and Juilliard honorary degree recipient Sir Derek Jacobi (see 4 Luminaries to Receive Honorary Degrees) in the roles of Prospero and Stephano. It will feature settings of Shakespeare’s text from the 1674 operatic staging of The Tempest, with music by Matthew Locke, John Bannister, and others.
The themes of this 75-minute staged reading are love, betrayal, revenge, and reconciliation, Clifford said in a recent telephone interview with The Journal. What sets it apart from other staged readings is that it encompasses several art forms (singing, theater, and music), which, he said should “work very well for Juilliard.” Clifford originated a slightly longer version of this production last year with the Folger Consort, the early-music ensemble in residence at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C.
In addition to Jacobi and Clifford, alumna Monica Raymund (Group 37), who plays Ria Torres on the Fox TV hit Lie to Me, will take the roles of Miranda, Ariel, and Trinculo. Accompanying the actors will be countertenor David Daniels and baritone Bob McDonald, who will be reprising their roles in the Folger production. Earlier this season Daniels gave a recital of works by Handel with soprano Dorothea Röschmann and Juilliard415 at Carnegie Hall.
The nine Juilliard instrumentalists taking part in the production—all from the Historical Performance program—will be led by violinist Beth Wenstrom, who will have just received her graduate diploma. “We are thrilled to work with icons in this field,” Wenstrom told The Journal while she was in the midst of editing down the music for the production.
James Houghton, Richard Rodgers Director of Drama, said the division “is thrilled to have such a distinguished list of artists assembled with The Tempest. We couldn’t be more honored that this event will directly benefit and support our students’ work.”