Identity of flying elf revealed
Since The Tempest has finished its run, it can now be revealed that the play’s mysterious flying elf Ariel was not, as advertised, a sprite, but was actually a human. The obnoxious elf’s pervasive presence throughout the play was achieved by Katalina Bernards, hiding in a corner of Cates Chapel and armed only with a microphone and her impressive speaking and haunting singing skills.
She’s, of course, the one in the middle of the back row, standing above Alonso (David Shadbolt), the King of Naples whom she drove mad with the mean-spirited sprite’s arsenal of threats and dire predictions. On the left is the Prince of Naples (Joe Henderson McCance), also driven to near-distraction by Ariel, but luckily for him driven into the arms of Prospero’s daughter Miranda (Robyn Westcott). On the right are Tina Nielsen, temporarily taking a break from Bowen’s chief librarianship to play the tipsy Neapolitan Trinculo, and Graham Ritchie (Prospero). Below are Martin Clarke (Stephano), and Michael Epp (Caliban).
Ariel’s identity was not the only surprise of the production. Several members of the audience, especially Jim McConnan, realised for the first time that they liked Shakespeare. It probably helped that the 400-year-old script was trimmed quite a bit, reducing the length to an hour and 15 minutes while still keeping the good stuff.
Thanks to the wonderful production team of stage manager Maureen Sawasy and lighting director Ian Davidson, sound effects whiz Jon Ritchie, house manager Irene Wanless and her fellow costumed ticket-takers Sonia Usmiani, Leah Cline, Angela McCulloch and Hilary Butler.
The costumes for them and for the cast came from that unassuming powerhouse of Bowen’s theatre-world, Shirley Wrinch. Tanya de Zwart created the poster and Rosemarie Leverton the website, and Island Pacific School donated the use of space for a cast dressing-room. And many thanks to the library volunteers who handled all the tickets.