The Tempest, William Galinsky

The Tempest   
Presented in English   
Great Yarmouth Hippodrome (UK), as part of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival
May 9-21, 2016

Inspired by the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, one of the country's only dedicated circus venues, William Galinsky developed a version of The Tempest in collaboration with artists which took place in a pool of water as part of the 2016 Norfolk & Norwich Festival.

Directed by William Galinsky
Cast included: Tony Guilfoyle, Pia Laborde Noguez, Jane Leaney, Graeme McKnight, Freddy Carter, Oliver Senton

Creative team:
Set Design: Laura Hopkins
Lighting Design: Mike Brooks
Sound Design: Neil Powell
Stage Manager: Thomas Vowles
Production Manager: Bernd Fauler    

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Selected Reviews:
The Stage review (3 stars): "There are only two purpose-built permanent circuses in Britain still in full working order, of which the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome is one. (The other is Blackpool Tower Circus). Built in 1903, and hidden away behind a string of amusement arcades, the Hippodrome features a traditional circus ring that can be flooded with water. With its low lights, faded velvet, old posters, and canopy of red and yellow silk, it’s as eerie a space as it is magical, a dark circus, a little crack in the fabric of time. It’s easy to see why William Galinsky, artistic director of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, would be drawn to it as a place in which to perform one of Shakespeare’s most other-worldly plays.

When the stage is fully flooded, it’s possible for performers to dive into the central pool and exit and enter underwater. Viewed from above the performance space looks a bit like a photo negative of an island, a water world. Galinsky’s production is a love letter to the venue and its potential."

"Jane Leany’s elegant Ariel is a water nymph, sporting an Esther Williams-esque bathing cap and attended on by a trio of sprites in black full-body stockings. They’re played by members of Lost in Translation circus and perform various aquatic and acrobatic feats throughout the show, flying above the stage on a trapeze or standing on each other’s shoulders in the pool before plunging into the water. There’s a music hall double-act quality to Stefano and Trinculo’s drunken antics too, a dash of Vladimir and Estragon. The production gets increasingly surreal in the second half. There are some moments of sublime strangeness"

"The dottier and more hallucinatory it gets the more fun it is"

"Every year the Norfolk and Norwich Festival stages some incredibly ambitious and deliciously idiosyncratic work that goes relatively unshouted about – of which this production is just the latest example. This is not the most rigorous version of The Tempest you’ll see. It makes some odd cuts to the text, including the epilogue, and while Tony Guilfoyle, in his black suit and surf shoes, is a measured and quietly dignified Prospero, some of the other performances are a bit patchy. Nor do the acoustics of the space really lend themselves to verse. But while it might not be earth-shaking Shakespeare, this is a frequently entertaining, and occasionally inspired, way of celebrating a unique space."

The Telegraph review (3 stars): "The venue’s ambience lends its own enchantment and its in-built mechanics are used for a number of coups de theatre: water falls from on high during the opening ship-wrecking ‘tempest’ scene, later comes gushing into the ring at the simple cranking of a few levers and, later on again, magically pours from the top-most diving board like a Norfolk Niagara. Yet Galinsky lets slip the opportunity for the world of the play to speak to the seaside locale – and provide a bit of cod and chips populism. Tony Guilfoyle's staff-wielding Prospero is intense and fluent but could have washed up from a more standard-issue production; the “cell” he stalks cries out for him to act as a ring-master while Caliban, a bitter, initially chained, modern-dressed Scot (Graeme McKnight), might conceivably be a maltreated circus "animal." Trinculo and Stephano could be knockabout clowns too. Not here, though”

"Not the best of Tempests, then, nor the worst of Tempests either, but less than the sum of its promising, industrious parts."

WhatsOnStage feature, 'We need to get out of theatres': "Last weekend, I caught the penultimate performance of The Tempest at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. It should have been a Grade-A opportunity to bring new audiences to Shakespeare – or rather, vice versa. A novel staging in a traditionally working class venue in a typically working class town, one that gets to see very little professional Shakespeare – that's a brilliant thing.

Talk about a damp squib. The Great Yarmouth Hippodrome is an old water circus – one of two still functioning in the UK. Perfect, you'd think, for Shakespeare's shipwrecks and stormclouds. And yet… this was perfectly banal: bog-standard Shakespeare with the odd splash, a few floats and some sprites synchronised swimming. What a waste of a unique venue, this huge open arena licked with jaded seaside glamour. No high dives. No fountains. No running, no bombing, no petting. What, I kept thinking, might Kneehigh have made of this space?

Worse, though, the production was old-fashioned, uncompromising and, frankly, confusing. Ariel was in a ballgown – a magician's assistant. Caliban wore a hoodie – colonialism swapped out for class. For an audience not familiar with the play, that's no help at all. Neither are theatrical references – Stephano and Trinculo as a music hall duo, in Beckettian bowler hats – or an insistence on the sanctity of the text. At the interval, one woman told me she hadn't a clue what was going on. Honestly? Neither had I."