The magic of theater: Flock Theatre performs "The Tempest" in the Arboretum

'The Tempest' features, from left, Kaitlyn Mangelinkx as Miranda, Christie Williams as Prospero and puppet Ariel. (Contributed)
"The Tempest" features, from left, Kaitlyn Mangelinkx as Miranda, Christie Williams as Prospero and puppet Ariel. (Contributed)

For Flock Theatre’s assistant director, Victor Chiburis, putting on a theater production is more than just performing a play. A show, in his opinion, is a magic of sorts that enables audiences to contemplate on aspects of their own lives.

In directing Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” a story about a magician who is betrayed by his brother and exiled to an island for 12 years, Chiburis invites audiences to ponder their own lives while reflecting on the show’s themes of magic, betrayal, revenge and forgiveness.

“This play was seen as Shakespeare’s farewell to writing and creativity. He points out that life is really nothing and is as substantial as the spirits in the play,” Chiburis says. “If it all means nothing anyways, why not make meaning for yourself and your life? This is what I hope audiences will take away from it.”

This year's production of "The Tempest" will take place at the Connecticut College Arboretum for eight performances over the next two weeks and will also visit the Mystic Seaport and the Connecticut River Museum for later performances this month.

Chiburis is directing “The Tempest,” but it’s not his first time working on the piece. In 2011, he performed in a Flock production of “The Tempest,” and therefore knows the play intimately. In this production however, the show has been about finding new contexts in which to bring it alive.

“Directing for me is finding new layers in the texts and relationships on stage. So even if you’ve seen the show before, the magic will be seeing the show play out on stage, taking away new lessons from it and applying it to your own life,” he says.

Working with 15 performers, ranging from complete beginners to long-standing professionals, has been a way to find something new, he says.

“I’m always looking for new beats and relationships formed between the performers,” he says. “Finding that is what makes a play new every time.”

He adds, “That is the special thing about Flock. All of the actors onstage are of varying levels of experience, which creates an interesting dynamic. Some of our new actors, for example, won’t know what an old Shakespearean word will mean, but we have all worked together to make sure that the words won’t matter so much as the emotion that will be conveyed through the acting. The goal is to have anyone watching the show understand through the emotions exactly what is happening.”

In the role of Prospero is Christie Williams, who recently portrayed James Tyrone in Flock's production of "Long Day's Journey into Night" in the Eugene O'Neill Cottage, as well as the title character in Flock's 2016 "Macbeth." Kaitlyn Mangelinkx, an alum of the Waterford High School drama program, plays Miranda.

Besides live acting, however, the show will also incorporate puppetry and mask work to portray certain characters and spirits. Chiburis says that these elements will help accentuate the theme of magic in the show.

As for the ship, a “giant puppet,” as Chiburis calls it, made out of wood and sheets will be deployed. The props are simple, Chiburis says, but it’s the imagination used behind everything that will bring the show to life.

In particular, the use of the three-manned wooden puppet for Ariel, who is a spirit and central character, will also play on the show’s themes of magic and the futility of life.

“In the end, Ariel is just wood and materials,” he says. “But bringing meaning into that and bringing that idea into the production is something amazing for those watching to witness.”

Flock Theatre’s “The Tempest,” Connecticut College Arboretum, Williams Street, New London; 7 p.m. July 13-16 and July 20-23; $15 adults, $12 students, seniors, active military; also 6:30 p.m. July 19 at Mystic Seaport, Route 27, where tickets are $18 members, $20 nonmembers; and 6 p.m. July 29 at Connecticut River Museum, 67 Main St., Essex; $18; (860) 443-3119.





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