The Victorian period was a time of industrial revolution, refined sensibilities and a love of paranormal events – which is exactly why Titchfield Festival Theatre director Ian Hyland is setting his production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the 1800s.
Running at the theatre from tonight until June 1, Ian felt the period was perfect for its love of all things magical.
Ian, who is also a filmmaker and designer, says: ‘The Tempest has a lot of magic in it. It’s almost acknowledged in the play that all the magic going on is part of the stage show.
‘It knows that it’s all theatrical effect. It’s like a wink from Shakespeare that we all know it’s a play really. The Victorians loved magic so it seems obvious to set it in that era, it was natural.’
The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, who is the rightful Duke of Milan. He’s left stranded on a remote island and seizes the chance, with some help from his spirit, to wreck his brother’s ship. But he has to accept that a lot will change.
Ian says: ‘I think The Tempest is an important play because it was almost like Shakespeare’s retirement play. It’s like a goodbye.’
The director hasn’t put on a play with TFT for eight years when the group was performing at Titchfield Abbey. This particular production is part of the Shakspeare summer season and will be performed at The Great Barn.
He explains: ‘It’s very different now because it’s not open air theatre. It still has that appeal of being in the open air, but it has the advantages of more traditional theatre which can help the production.
‘I’m also using traditional theatre techinques to show the magic, such as video projection and glass and mirrors. It gives the impression of a figure and it’s just enough to see that it’s supposed to be magic.’
Tickets: £9 to £11 from Titchfield Festival Theatre on (01329) 556156 or go to titchfieldfestivaltheatre.com.