The Tempest makes audiences roar with laughter at Parkrose High

Look at this story and you’ll see why audiences are saying that this play, written by William Shakespeare, is “A hilarious tale of magic, romance and over-caffeinated treachery” …

Prospera (Yian Saechao), the former Duchess of Milan, exiled to the island, where she controls all with her magical powers. By the way, none of these photos were posed – they were all taken during a performance!

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Parkrose High School Thespian Troupe 1783 has just debuted their springtime presentation, William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Before the curtain went up, Ms. Zena, the school’s drama instructor and the director of the play, told us she’s seen her students grow as actors as they explore Shakespeare’s use of language, and the universality of his themes.

Ariel (Ashley LeCarno) a fairy servant and best friend of Prospera, revels in her master’s plan to cause a storm that drives her enemies to the Island.

Driven onto the Island, Gonzala (Haley Lusby) – a counselor who gave aid to Prospera before she was banished – and Alonsa (Kenzie Billick-Smith), Queen of Naples and mother to Ferdinand (we’ll meet him later), bemoan their fate.

Context, not language is updated
We noted that, unlike some adaptations of Shakespeare’s works, the actors use his actual words and phrasing – instead of rewriting the play into modern English.

Although the language remains true to the author, they’ve done a wonderful job updating the context of many scenes. For example, instead of portraying a trio of drunkards – few find alcoholism humorous these days – they play it as three co-conspirators, hooked on extra-strength espresso. This adaptation makes The Bard’s words timely, relatable – and laugh-out-loud funny.

“In this play, themes of love, envy, and revenge are prominent – themes which high school students really comprehend. These themes have led to some great discussions with the students about how they perceive the world,” Zena explained. “And, the actors are playing up the comedy element a lot, mostly through making strong choices about the characters as caricatures.”

Trincula (Emily Weatherford), the over-caffeinated Jester & Fool in Queen Alonsa’s Court, proclaims the virtues of the “mighty elixir” that brightens her days.

On another part of the Island, there seems to be something about the nerdy Ferdinand (Sterling Arkills) – son of Queen Alonsa – that’s hypnotically attractive to Prospera’s radiant daughter, Miranda (Belinda Washington).

About the story
The story focuses on a banished sorcerer – Prospera, Duchess of Milan – exiled to the Island. Using her substantial magical powers, Prospera – with the help of her legion of Nymphs (invisible Island servants) – manipulate her “visitors”, confusing and confounding them.

Prospera’s highly-resentful monster-like servant, Caliban, comes across the shipwrecked Trincula the Jester, and Stephania, Royal Coffee Barista to Queen Alonsa, and – believing that the two colorful ladies are from the moon – work themselves into a highly caffeinated frenzy, and attempt a coup d’état.

Others brought to the island plot, plan, and scheme to take power – but their can’t figure out why their efforts are defused at every turn.

Antonio (Oly Arellano), the Duke of Milan, Prospera’s brother and usurper of her title, and Sebastian (Grant Weston) Brother to Queen Alonsa, ineptly hatch plots to do away with all who stand in their way of their fame and royal glory.

Whipped into a Frappachino®-like* frenzy, Trincula, Stephania (Taylor Grady), the Royal Coffee Barista to the Queen, and the sorceresses’ resentful servant, Caliban (Tom Crawford), think they’re going crazy – as Ariel teases and confounds them, as she leads the jittery trio around the Island.

  • Will the romance between Ferdinand and Miranda ignite, or fizzle out?
  • Is it possible for Prospera that, by manipulating the course of his enemies’ path through the Island, she can win them over?
  • In the end, will the audience at the Parkrose High Theater (honestly!) choose to free Prospera, by “voting her off the Island”?

Find out, by coming to see The Tempest – on stage through May 16.

Using her magical powers, Prospera “freezes” the gathering of her enemies – some with their swords (really, tennis rackets) drawn – while she considers her next actions.

Restoring calm to all in the Island, Prospera rebukes her enemies, praises those loyal to her … and wonders how the situation should be resolved.

Plan now to see The Tempest
The Tempest opened on May 7, plays again on May 8 at 7:00 p.m.

  • There’s a special matinee performance (great for the family) on Saturday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m.

The program continues its run on May 14, 15 and 16; the curtain rises at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets are just $8 for adults, and $5 for those under age 18 or over 65. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance (online) at

All shows are in the beautiful Parkrose High School Theater, 12003 NE Shaver Street, just west of NE 122nd Avenue.

Will the audience, asked to vote by their applause, allow Prospera to leave the Island – or will she be banished there forever?  Come and help decide her fate!

Frappuccino® is a registered trademark of Starbucks and is the name of a blended ice beverage and of a bottled coffee beverage. The term is not used in this play – it is our attempt to convey a state of being using the term as a metaphor, recognizable by many in our modern culture.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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