On the eve of SHAKE Festival’s The Tempest having its one-time-only live reading on Zoom, Director Jenny Hall, daughter of Sir Peter Hall, explains what has helped her through 2020.
We have all had to find our own way of getting through lockdown, whether that be 1.0 or 2.0. And Suffolk-based Director Jenny Hall, daughter of Sir Peter, is no exception.
She tells Folk Features: ‘During lockdown I thought the most important thing was to keep enjoying life and, above all, keep creative – so I’ve been spinning and weaving, which is very calming, and trying to plan new events for SHAKE Festival as regulations shifted.’
SHAKE Festival is a new multi-disciplinary festival of Shakespeare, inaugurated in Suffolk last year, when it featured Dame Harriet Walter, Professor Grace Ioppolo and playwright Ian Kelly, among others. The first SHAKE Festival Zoom production, in September, was a verse-speaking workshop led by Jenny Hall and with special guest Dame Janet Suzman.
And this month the Festival team have been deep in rehearsal for their live reading of The Tempest which will be performed on Zoom tomorrow – Thursday November 19 – at 7.30pm.
Jenny, who once played Miranda in The Tempest at the National Theatre, directed by her father, adds: ‘I’m so happy to be able to direct The Tempest on Zoom, with a starry cast from all over the world as well as five from Suffolk.’
The star-studded cast is led by Geraldine James as Prospero and Rebecca Hall as Ariel with a cast of young stars of TV and film, including Lauryn Canny, Amesh Edireweera, Antonio Aakeel and Aidan Cheng. Olivier Award nominee Robert Hands reads Sebastian, and Wendy Morgan, Tim Fitzhigham and David Sibley are also amongst the excellent cast.
Jenny adds: ‘The story of The Tempest offers a magical escape from reality and soul-food for audiences and performers alike in this difficult time.’
For his part, Aidan Cheng says: ‘I’m having so much fun exploring another side of The Tempest, away from kings and sorcerers, and into earthy, comical, very human territory. The cast are sublime, and as a young actor, reading Stephano, it’s a real privilege to work with heavyweights such as Geraldine James and director Jenny Hall. We could not have asked for better captains at the helm as we dive into this storm of a play!’
Lauryn adds: ‘To get to take on the beautiful role of Miranda in this incredible play with such an extraordinary cast is a dream come true, and feels even more special in a year like this. To get to soak up the boundless knowledge of legends such as Geraldine James is a complete honour and I feel especially lucky to venture into the world of Shakespeare for the first time surrounded by so many talented folk.’
Amesh plays Caliban. He says: ‘The Tempest has left a dent of passion for me to push off into more exploration into Shakespeare. Jenny is phenomenal as a director – she truly feels the words that are spoken by her actors. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for having spent time learning from her. All of the actors are ridiculously brilliant at reading this stuff – should be a hoot!’
Antonio plays Ferdinand. He adds: ‘As young actors we are sometimes fearful of Shakespeare but the introduction I’ve had to the language has far surpassed any training I’ve had prior, and I’ve learned furthermore what a gift Shakespeare is to our creative world. Everything exists within the text. It’s been an incredible baptism by fire, but I’m learning from the best in the game.’
Jenny again. ‘At a time when our theatres are closed and live theatre feels like a distant memory, I saw the opportunity Zoom gives us to present a live reading with a magnificent international cast, and where we can pass on the great skills of verse speaking to a new generation of outstanding young talents.’
For tickets click here