Character Analysis and Design

Prospero

Prospero is a very dominant character, revolving every event that unfolds around him, and creating a world that suits his needs and plays out exactly how he has planned. He has been denied the power he feels he deserves, and so manipulates the characters of the play to prove his power and connection with the island. His costume is highly reflective of his time on the island, mimicking its colours and textures. Miranda’s costume will have similar qualities, representing their connection as father and daughter, as well as their time on the island being the same. Because of his controlling nature, Prospero’s cell is very central. This gives him a strong advantage as a dominant character, being the same distance from everything, and in the middle of all that goes on , being the controller of all events.

He also has Ariel keeping an eye on everything, as a second eye to watch over the happenings and inform him of everything that is going on, meaning he is always in the loop and one step ahead of everyone. Due to this, he can decide whether his actions will be merciful or not with full control. Although Prospero’s manner is very strong and certain, he presents a forgiving air, displaying that despite his actions, he wanted to teach the characters he brought to the island, not punish them.

 

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Miranda

Miranda is the daughter of Prospero, and puts her full faith in him. She is very much his puppet, and if he so wished, could make her do or believe anything. Her mind is very innocent and she is extremely naive, however due to Prospero being very aware of the possible dangers that come with bringing people to the island, she has him watching over her and he has prepared everything to make sure she will be okay. She believes anything her father tells her, and therefore believes Caliban is completely evil without any provocation, despite the fact that is only one side of the story.

Miranda’s scarf also doubles as a blanket, picking up a lot of red residue. She wants to keep the blanket close to her as it is one of the only things she has from before her time on the island.

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Caliban

Caliban has been on the island for many years, much longer than Prospero and Miranda. He is extremely vengeful towards Prospero, and has been cast aside as a slave when he believes he has far higher value than that. His time on the island will be heavily reflected by his costume. Caliban’s time living outside and being mistreated has mutated his form, giving him a rocky and sharp appearance, with mutated skin in both colour and texture. He is slowly becoming a permanent part of the island, which heavily concerns him and pushes him to rebel against Prospero. However due to Prospero having vision over the entire island, most of which Caliban is unaware of, he is unsuccessful and his outcasts him further.

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Ariel

Ariel is a spirit on the island, very useful and of a lot of value to Prospero. Without Ariel, Prospero would not have the control he does, and would not be able to fulfil his tasks as effectively. Although Ariel desires to be set free, he secretly loves the value he has when working for Prospero, as without him his power would not be recognised and he would feel as if it was wasted.

Ariel maintains his position in his cell for the entirety of the production. This allows him to fulfill Prospero’s wishes and be his second eye. Although he is powerful enough to resist Prospero and make his own way, he would no longer have purpose.

The audience can see Ariel and are aware of his presence, however the characters cannot. This gives the illusion that Prospero is more powerful than he is, as the characters believe that everything happening is solely Prospero. Although he is human-looking, he possesses very animal-like traits that separate him from being Prospero’s equal, and reflect his time on the island and now it has changed him.

Due to keeping himself on the island and isolating himself to his cell in the rocks, Ariel has not had the chance to grow physically and because of his obedience and relationship dynamic with Prospero, has a very child-like appearance to visually convey this.

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Blood Falls/Pink Lakes

Blood Falls is an outflow of an iron oxide-tainted plume of saltwater, flowing from the Taylor Glacier onto the ice-covered surface of West Lake Bonney in the Taylor Valley of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Victoria Land, East Antarctica.

Iron-rich hypersaline water sporadically emerges from small fissures in the ice cascades. The saltwater source is a subglacial pool of unknown size overlain by about 400 meters of ice several kilometers from its tiny outlet at Blood Falls.

The reddish deposit was found in 1911 by the Australian geologist Griffith Taylor, who first explored the valley that bears his name. The Antarctica pioneers first attributed the red color to red algae, but later it was proven to be due only to iron oxides.

When considering how the red residue on my design, I researched whether it was possible for there to be real natural elements that display this same behavior. Blood Falls’ name is an example of how colour can be connotated. It represents elements of films which many people will have scene which depict scenes of masses of blood flowing, and I am interested in whether many creatives got their inspiration from Blood Falls.

Another example of unusual colors being among nature are the Pink Lakes. There are seven in total, many of them in Australia, and have become a popular tourist attraction. Many people have said they are not real, due to their disbelief that nature could produce something that they have always believed to be impossible, or that does not correlate with what they have known all their lives – which is that lakes/oceans tends to have a blue hue when looked at as a whole.

These lakes have a lot of green alga (Dunaliella salina, halobacterium Halobacteria cutirubrum) and a high concentration of brine prawn. Once the lake water reaches a salinity level greater than that of sea water, the temperature is high enough and adequate light conditions are provided, the alga begins to accumulate the red pigment (beta carotene). The pink halobacterium grow in the salt crust at the bottom of the lake and the colour of the lake is a result of the balance between, D. salina and H. cutirubrum.

Because of these natural occurrences, and Hongdo Island having elements of red dust, I feel my design that heavily incorporates red residue and relates it to the characters and the plot will be far more relatable with the real world outside of The Tempest, bringing an element of today into the play, and keep each part of the play linked with the audience in one way or another.

Statement of Intent

For my adaption of The Tempest, I aim to deliver a design which allows the main embodiment of the story to remain the same and very clear, whilst manipulating the environment to illustrate the unusual and heavy nature of the island. My design will allow the plot to flow and not stray from the original events of the play, isolating each key moment on stage, capturing the full attention of the audience to wholly tell the story.

I want the characters on stage to seem very isolated and small in comparison to their surroundings, reflecting the alienation they’re experiencing after being caught in the tempest. To achieve this, I aim to keep my designs minimal, with nothing that they would consider familiar. Initially, I felt keeping to a solid time period and using this to guide my designs would be the most effective way of presenting the play, and make it more relatable to an audience. However, as the design stages progressed, I felt that this first idea was holding me back from fully pushing the potential the play has for some very bold designs, so I had to reconsider whether giving the production a set time period would hinder the final outcome. Although my costume designs for the 1920s were definite and contrasting with the set, I found that when I looked over them they did not seem complete and instead, took away from the aesthetic of the design as a whole. Timeless costumes will allow for a wider range of outcomes and will be able to project each character’s traits more effectively, intertwining them together and displaying the relationships they have with each other.

When researching, I specifically wanted to focus on collecting information that could be incorporated into my designs, as referencing elements of designs to geographical locations or historical events can make a production far more relatable for an audience. Hongdo Island is an island in a Japan, extremely barren with little sign of foliage, practically inhabitable. It’s main quality of interest comes from the rocky terrain itself, and the red dust that is produced. I intend to take this element of Hongdo and exaggerate it, using the red residue to communicate to the audience how long each character has been on the island by how much of it is on their clothes. This will also connote how sheltered each character is in the story, for example Caliban’s costume will incorporate a lot of red due to his living conditions whereas Miranda’s costume will be far less distressed, due to her status on the island.

The set will be minimal, with little detail except the rock faces and subtle signs of life that have been made from using the resources already on the island. During each scene, characters will use these elements to move around the island, and different areas of the stage will represent different parts of the island. Observing the way each character interacts with the various parts of the stage will also be an effective way of portraying each of the character’s traits, and create a relationship between the characters and the island. Intending to show the magical elements of the island, I felt creating an exact replica of a real island environment would be underwhelming to the story and not push the boundaries of a contemporary Shakespeare production. I began to consider how rocky terrain could be presented while pushing materials. Initially, the idea of using found objects on the island to create shapes and rock faces was favourable, as it could create a story of how each object got there and produce a history for the island. The Drury Lane production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory does this very effectively, and creates a familiarity and relevance of these objects, keeping the location of the scene very close to home. However, my concept stems from how isolated and cold the island feels, and familiarity would disconnect from that and bring an element of comfort which would deter from this. Therefore, using these key words I began to consider which material would suitably fit this description. I felt that giving the illusion of metal for the rock faces delivers the element of magic and supernatural, whilst producing a very uninviting and lonely environment for the story to play out in.

Going to The National really helped when considering my design. Seeing each theatre space gave me the chance to envision what each would look like when housing The Tempest. Due to my design incorporating large scale and extremely sculptural elements such as rock faces and cliffs, the Olivier was definitely the best theatre space. Due to the size of the stage, it allows me to stretch the possibilities of the design using a variety of different sizes and shapes which actors can utilise during performance. Additionally, the sight lines from the auditorium create a space in which the set feels more sculpted and 3D, as it can be viewed from a wider range of angles in comparison to most theatres. This means that detail and shape needs to be heavily incorporated into bigger areas of the set and props, perfect for my barren, rocky island design which carries an extremely sculptural aesthetic.

Overall, I intend to present The Tempest in a true-to-script manner, whilst bringing it into a timeless era with no specified location; drawing the main focus into the script and using the island’s aesthetic to represent the coldness of the play and its events. The character’s traits will remain the same, although aesthetic choices will encourage the audience to make their own decisions about the characters and how they interact with eachother.

Process of 1:25 Set Model

Once the design had been finalised, I could begin to decide what materials would be most effective. I needed a medium that would be easily moulded and cut to achieve the look of natural rock forms, but also allow me to constantly make changes to it and move different parts around. I first considered a wire frame with Modrock, but soon learned that the material once dry was not able to be changed or reshaped, and I could not achieve details as fine as necessary.

However, I began to consider how Polystyrene is easily manipulated, but did not like the way that it came apart easily and absorbed any and all liquids, even if they were not water-based. Although Styrofoam also has this quality, it is less extreme and allows mediums to be used on it without it completely absorbing into every layer. It is also very easy to manipulate, add more material and also take away material where necessary.

I did not want to draw the rock design out, as I felt that would restrict me to a specific pattern and potentially make the design look less natural and more artificial.

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I made sure to sample the spray paints with the Styrofoam before using them straight onto my piece, as oil-based aerosols would most likely corrode the material.  Because of this , I primed the Styrofoam beforehand to allow me to work into the material without the worry of the detail being negatively effected and lost. I used a grey primer as to begin to layer up colour onto the Styrofoam and break away from the artificial colours of it. This also means that when I begin to layer up metallics onto the rocks, there will already be a base coat to work onto.

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After priming the Styrofoam, I applied the Plastikote metallic spray paint. However, due to the background being light, the metallic finish was not as dark as I wanted it to be. I decided to do a sample of the metallic spray on a darker material and see how it came out. I also needed to sample how the spray went onto the mountboard to consider how I could create the desired effect on the backdrop of the set, so I decided to use the mountboard to test both the material and how the colour came out on a dark surface.

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I definitely preferred how the paint went onto a darker surface, as it came out as more of a nickel/silver colour rather than a gold. The colour is slightly lighter then I aimed to get, so I will work into the material with some watered-down acrylic paint to darken areas.

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After doing this sample, I decided to darken the Styrofoam before applying the metallic spray paint to it, so I used another Plastikote spray paint (matte black) to create a better surface to work with, without the danger of losing some of the detail of the rocks. I used matte black rather than a gloss so that the metallic finish would be clearer and more effective once dry and finished.

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In the Spray Room, the material had been primed and sprayed black, ready to be sprayed with the metallic finish.

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These images show the rocks after they have been sprayed with the metallic finish. The result is far lighter than I hoped for, and so I decided to work back into the material with black acrylic paint before respraying, to create darker areas and deeper shadows.

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IMG_6488.JPGThe acrylic paint was very effective and allowed me to respray areas to maintain the metallic finish but with darker tones, producing a more silver effect than gold. I also wanted the metal to look more tarnished, which the acrylic did effectively. Once I was happy with the colour of the rocks, I began adding the red residue. It sits heavily in some areas, and more lightly in others, usually dependant on where the characters go and what they touch. I also research the natural growth patterns of this sort of residue (for example; Hongdo Island) and replicated that.

I then had to begin considering how I would create Ariel’s cell. Because his character is stationary during my adaption, I wanted to create a space he could observe the entire stage without being too prominent and distracting from the plot. Therefore, I considered using the back wall.

In order to cut out the hole, I wanted to use a method much quicker than hollowing it out with a scalpel. Therefore, I used a hand drill with a hole cutter drill bit. This effectively gave me the result I desired, and I could then work into it with a scalpel to achieve more detailed results. Using mesh as a way of bringing elements of the island together means that there is always a solid pattern throughout the design, and it signifies a less finished and ‘lived-in’ area. Although this will be Ariel’s cell, it will not be considered luxurious and instead will be seen as undesirable.

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Seeing all of the elements of the set together gave me perspective. It allowed me to begin to consider how the actors would move through the set. I soon realised that I hadn’t given enough thought to this and so made some changes to my design. I felt that Prospero’s cell could be considered part of the ‘climbing frame’ system, and that creating a walkway between the different elements could bring it all together and bring it closer to the audience. When the drum revolves, it will move Prospero’s cell around the stage, connecting it with different elements of the set. it will connect with the left side and allow actors to move above, through and on top of the left installation and Prospero’s cell. As it rotates anticlockwise, it will reveal Caliban’s hideaway behind Prospero’s cell, and as it continues to rotate and connects with the smaller rock installation to the right, it will become another possible walk way and interactive piece for the actors. Connecting the elements together is important to ensure that the island comes together as one location.

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(beginning of cut out – left rock installation)

The next step involved the backdrop and the stage surface. I wanted to keep the metallic theme consistent and very prominent in the design, so I used the same Plastikote metallic spray to cover the backdrop, bringing it together. The surface of the stage incorporates a sandy/gravelly surface. I began by gluing the texture down and allowing it to dry. After this step is complete, it will be sprayed metallic similarly to the rest of the set. This will allow the red residue to stand out more and finalise the theme into a more believable and solid location. However, when coating the base in adhesive ready to apply the sand/gravel, it began to bow despite having supports underneath, so I had to put a few more supports underneath to allow the material to dry in a way which would not effect the shape of the stage. I also put pins into the box where the drum revolve is, so I could accurately mark out my set and scale.

PVA glue was not effective when sticking down the gravel. The layer of flooring was too thick to stick onto the mount board, and due to its heavy nature, the PVA caused the base to bow. Therefore I tried the method of using spray adhesive to put a top layer on the floor to stick it down. However the spray reacted negatively with the gravel and made it unstick.

The most effective method was using scenic cement. I was concerned that using this would make the base bow even more but because it is a lighter material than PVA, the base retained its shape and kept the gravel in place. This allowed me to continue with the placement of the set and props and begin adding the final details.

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The next step was to attach the carpet walls, to be able to get a physical view of the sight lines, not just an idea from the ground and elevation plans.

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The next step was to spray paint the rest of the set with the Plastikote metallic spray.

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It was important for me to take pictures of how the set would move throughout the production, to get an idea of how it interacted and if placement was correct and effective for each scene, all whilst considering how the actors would move around and interact with the set.

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(Prospero’s cell revolving on the drum – pins indicate where the drum revolve is on stage)

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Final touches such as the final red residue and stairs behind the set in order to allow actors to be mobile on the set were added. This finalised the set making and really brought it all together. I had pictures taken with the correct lighting to portray my intentions with the set and what I aimed to achieve when the set was in a theatre environment. Seeing the model with the lighting that would replicate the production brought it to life and presented the concept very effectively, with a cold and uninviting aesthetic. This is what I aimed to achieve so I am pleased with the final outcome.

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