In our version, the story is similar to the original until Miranda and Ferdinand meet. Ferdinand and Miranda do still swear their love for each other, but Sycorax returns and casts a (dis)spell to reveal Ferdinand’s true feelings to Miranda. Enraged by Sycorax’s (dis)spell, Prospero takes revenge on Sycorax’s son, Caliban, through Stephano and Trinculo’s bullying. Sycorax frees Ariel from Prospero and then uses Ariel to free Caliban through a dream. Prospero feels unsatisfied in his quest for revenge, so Caliban offers wisdom that prompts Prospero to receive a ritualistic cleansing from Sycorax. Sycorax then reveals the heartbroken Miranda, whom Prospero comforts. Sycorax and Prospero forgive each other, and all is well.
Pedagogically, this process didn't allow the students as much ownership over the direction of the final work as in previous years. In the past, I've always divided students into groups in which they devised ten minute plays on various topics. Although some groups were very successful with this format, others were not. This year's mode guaranteed a greater feeling of success across the board even though I exerted more creative control. In terms of acting, I really enjoyed watching students who had played a scene one way during our processional, play the same scene in a completely different context this time. For instance, when we performed The Tempest processional, we played the Stephano/Caliban/Trinculo scene for comedy as it was originally written. In our version, we were able to bring out the postcolonial undercurrents by playing the same scene as a moment of cruel bullying instigated by Prospero.
I must say I was very pleased with this project. I simply can't do work like this in any other setting. These students are special, and I am blessed (and I am not one to throw that word around) to have had the opportunity to work with them.