Secondary Character(s) Saturday: Ariel and Caliban (The Tempest)

English: Ariel and Caliban

I’m doubling up on Secondary Characters today because I…

  1. JUST got home from seeing the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory’s ensemble version of The Tempest
  2. didn’t manage to get in a post yesterday
  3. can’t decide between Ariel and Caliban
  4. am master of my own island… I mean blog… and can pretty much do as I please.

WHO: Ariel and Caliban

FROM: The Tempest



Ariel– As assistant head mischief maker on the island Ariel shows a can do attitude when it comes to pleasing her* master, Prospero. She’s persistent in asking for her freedom from the magician, and although it’s been 12 years, she’s optimistic enough to think she’ll actually achieve it. She is a creature of the air, a spirit who can disappear and do magic.

Caliban — He’s the island’s true heir apparent. He knows every animal, every cave, every stream. He’s strong.

Ariel (from The Tempest)

Ariel (from The Tempest) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ariel — She mischievous. Her drive to gain her freedom blinds her to the morality of what she’s instructed to do.

Caliban– He’s different. He’s not as “smart” as his Eurocentric counterparts in the play. He’s ugly. All that makes him a monster, right? He certainly gets called “monster” often enough in the course of the play. Oh, and the powerful white guy wants his land. That’s never good. Sorry, but its hard not to feel compassion for Caliban. 12 years prior to the start of the play Prospero landed on his island and essentially planted a flag on it and started to call himself king. Suddenly Caliban became Prospero’s servant, then slave.  Prospero and Miranda tried to educate Caliban early on, but, beyond learning to speak, it didn’t take.

Ariel — The Most Shining Moment goes to Ariel when she wakes up the Prince and Gonzolo just in time for them evade assassination.

Caliban de "La Tempête" de William S...

Caliban de “La Tempête” de William Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caliban — The Least Shining Moment goes to Caliban in an offstage moment sometime before the play begins. Back when Prospero and Miranda were still in the “lets educate the monster” stage of their relationship. Caliban misunderstanding the nature of Miranda’s kindness  — he’d only known one other woman, his witch (literally) of a mother — and unable to control his own nascent sexuality tries to rape her. Bad move.

* Although Shakespeare wrote the role of Ariel for male actors, it was played tonight by the lovely and very talented Jenna K. Rossman, a woman. And since every time I’ve seen the show — this is my third time seeing it live — the role has been done with a woman playing Ariel, I’m just going to go ahead and use the feminine pronoun.

Caliban, on the other hand,  is almost always played by a man. This time around he is played by wonderful James Miller.

Rossman and Miller were also in the company’s version of A Mid Summer Night’s Dream this summer.

Prospero is being played by Ian  Blackwell Rogers (He was this summer’s Hamlet), and Miranda is  being played by Kathryn Zoerb (who was Juliet earlier in the season.)

This ensemble production was put together with limited rehearsal time (18 hours) and no director (it is actor driven). To add the Shakespearian experience audience members have the opportunity to rent nerf tomatoes and lob them at the actors should they flub a line (or if they are just really nasty characters.) Given the intimate setting  of the Shakespeare Factory’s home stage at The Great Hall Theatre at St. Mary’s a few flying tomatoes really adds to an already enjoyable show.

The Tempest runs until Nov 24. Click HERE for details on how to get tickets. 


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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