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M-CHS explores space, sci-fi in ‘Tempest’ production

Cast takes Shakespeare in unconventional direction
Montezuma-Cortez High School junior Shaylin Smith, left, and senior Liam O’Shields rehearse a scene of “The Tempest” last week. The show opens this weekend.

Audiences will be transported back in time and to outer space with Montezuma-Cortez High School drama department’s production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” this month.

The M-CHS version of the classic play is set on a different planet and is done in the style of a 1980s science-fiction B-movie, director Nicholaus Saundner said. Shakespeare’s original was set on an island during a storm, but the M-CHS production takes place on an isolated planet, and the titular event is an asteroid field hitting the planet instead of a storm, he said.

One goal for the drama department for the past several years has been to tackle styles that aren’t often represented on stage, such as science-fiction, Sandner said.

“It’s been a wild ride,” he said.

Evening performances are Fridays and Saturdays on Nov. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 7 p.m., with Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on Nov. 12 and 19 at the M-CHS auditorium. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for kids age 5 and under.

The production will include the original Shakespeare dialogue, so cast members have been rehearsing since September to learn the more challenging language, Sandner said.

In addition to the ambitious setting and script, the crew added more visual elements, including foam and electronics sewn into costumes. Crew members also will create sound effects live on stage in the style of early radio shows.

“There are a lot of new challenges,” Sandner said.

Cast and crew members started working on characters early this school year to develop them for the unconventional setting, Sandner said. The main character Prospero has minions who do his bidding, and in the M-CHS production, the minions are based on the natural elements earth, fire, water and air. Sandner said it was fun for the cast and crew to come up with that idea and design costumes based on those elements.

“Shakespeare tends to be hard to digest, so these visual elements are played up,” he said. “I’m excited to see what people think.”

For more information and to reserve tickets online, visit www.mchsdrama.org.