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Savannah Shakes presents ‘The Tempest’ with 1970s flair

  • Savannah Shakes’ production of “The Tempest” will feature nods to David Bowie, Queen and more.
  • Savannah Shakes’ “The Tempest” will feature nods to David Bowie, Queen and more. (Photo by Megan Jones)

Savannah Shakes presents ‘The Tempest’ with 1970s flair

27 Jun 2017

Leave it to Savannah Shakes to present “The Tempest” in a way never seen before.

“It’s set in the disco ‘70s era,” says director Sheila Lynne Bolda. “We kind of gave it a David Bowie theme for the costumes, music and inspiration.

“We felt Shakespeare and David Bowie have a lot in common. Both were artistic geniuses that transcended their time.

“It works well in the run of the Savannah Shakes season when we first started picking shows,” she says. “It was a natural progression for us.”

Savannah Shakes has had great success restaging Shakespeare’s plays in settings in modern eras, including “The Taming of the Shrew” in post-World War II America, “Much Ado About Nothing” in 1967 and “Henry V” in the Vietnam War era.

“’The Tempest’ is staged in a dance club instead of a deserted island,” Bolda says. “It’s a crazy, stormy night in the New York Studio 54 era. We call the club Isle 54. It’s a lot of fun.

“We have Prospera, who was once a duchess and now has been deposed by her scheming brother, the king of Milan,” Bolda says. “She is in command of a few otherworldly characters such as Ariel, her trusty servant sprite, and Calaban, who was a native of the island.”

Bolda adds that “The Tempest” can be seen to address modern movements.

“In many ways, the play represents different types of movements that happened in the ‘70s, including the feminist movement, the civil rights movement, the LGBT movement. It all kind of blends together and makes for a really interesting take on Shakespeare.

“The music lends itself well to the play,” she says. “As does the playfulness of some of our seasonal veterans who have been in all five of our shows.”

Because there is a bar at Club One, the matinee performances are open to ages 16 and older, while the evening shows are open to ages 18 and older.

In the fall, Savannah Shakes will present Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” as a grindhouse horror film of the 1980s. In the meantime, enjoy “The Tempest.”

“If you love Shakespeare, if you just like having fun on a summer evening or afternoon, it’s a really interesting look at how Shakespeare can be plopped down in any time period,” Bolda says. “The Ariel character fits that Ziggy Stardust model that David Bowie embodied in the ‘70s. We encourage our audience to come dressed up in their best disco duds.”


What: Savannah Shakes presents “The Tempest”

When: 8 p.m. June 30, July 1, 6 and 7; 3 p.m. July 2, 3, 8 and 9

Where: Bay Street Theatre, Club One, 1 Jefferson St.

Cost: $15, $10 students and seniors; ages 16 and older for matinees; 18 and older for evenings