Although he never produced The Tempest, Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966) proved interested in that play throughout his life: he proposed to design it for Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) in 1904, jotted down
Although he never produced The Tempest, Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966) proved interested in that play throughout his life: he proposed to design it for Max Reinhardt (1873-1943) in 1904, jotted down staging directions in 1905-7, 1921-3, and 1930-9, made several drawings for it, devoted an article to it in 1924… He regarded Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s (1722-1834) opinion that Shakespeare’s play was intended only for the imagination as a challenge to stage directors. He set the action undersea, on a sunken island, and was obsessed with the means to create that effect on stage. The opening scene, with the storm and wreckage, was a major concern for him; he envisioned several ways to produce it, until in 1942 he eventually conceived the idea of having it performed as a dream that takes place in Prospero’s mind, who either hears the text uttered offstage, or even utters himself all characters’ lines. His discussions with Peter Brook (born 1925) led to some of his conceptions being realized in Brook’s 1957 and 1968 productions of the play. His ideas were so bold and so much ahead of their time that they were only realized in two motion pictures by two avant-garde film directors who were not aware of their predecessor: Derek Jarman’s (1942-1994) The Tempest (1979) and Peter Greenaway’s (born 1942) Prospero’s Books (1991).
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