Zoe Seaton, director of this summer’s The Tempest, gives us an insight into her process, how ‘game theatre’ has impacted her work and what you should expect from this summer’s anarchic performance in Osney Mead.
This play is outrageous. Someone who has been wronged uses his exile to learn magic, conquer the island and plan his revenge. Then he whips up a giant storm to bring his enemies to account and arrange his daughter’s future.
It’s a brilliant story, a giant experiment in human behaviour full of ethical minefields and moral ambiguity. And I think the best place to experience this story is on the inside, shipwrecked on an island controlled by a rogue magician, where anything could happen. I mean this guy can create storms, capture spirits and open graves – what can’t he do?
Prospero is a game player. And that’s where this story really becomes interesting.
I started making ‘game theatre’ a few years ago and have become fascinated by its potential, not only because of the extraordinary feedback from audiences, but also the glorious agency and licence it gives actors. I had been building pockets of improvisation into traditional plays for some time, but this feels like a form which thrives on the liveness of theatre and the inventiveness of the actors.
The right actors. It’s not for everyone.
I truly believe that for Creation’s Tempest we have put together a gloriously inventive and anarchic ensemble; actors who will bring fresh energy to the play and find new ways to tell this unique story.
I’m also excited about the sites that Creation has brokered for this adventure. For me, the least interesting location for The Tempest would be a desert island… Much more interesting to plunge us into an industrial landscape where anything could be happening behind locked gates, full of projects and experiments which Prospero may never disclose….
About audience participation. We are careful with this. Audiences are absolutely in charge of how much they join in. Sometimes people want to be really playful, and that’s great. But sometimes people don’t, and that’s also great. It’s an offer, and if people don’t want to join in they should feel as if they’ve been invited to a party they couldn’t make, delighted to be invited, not a party pooper because they didn’t go. We are very focused on the audience experience, we genuinely want them to have the best time ever. And so the phrase you’ll hear most often on this rehearsal process is #maximumcraic – what’s the best thing that can happen in this space at this point?
The best thing is always a surprise.
And The Tempest is full of them.