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KSC Theatre and Dance Presents Shakespeare's Romantic Comedy "The Tempest"

Keene State Theatre actors (from left) Dan Patterson of Keene, N.H., as Prospero; Ryan Connell of Greenfield, Mass., as his daughter, Miranda; and Aaron Howland of Winchester, N.H., as Ferdinand rehearse a scene from *The Tempest*.
Keene State Theatre actors (from left) Dan Patterson of Keene, N.H., as Prospero; Ryan Connell of Greenfield, Mass., as his daughter, Miranda; and Aaron Howland of Winchester, N.H., as Ferdinand rehearse a scene from *The Tempest*.

The Tempest, a Shakespearean romantic comedy conjured with the magic of a father’s love, will be presented by Keene State Theatre and Dance from Wednesday to Saturday, February 27 to March 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Theatre of the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens and youth, and $6 for Keene State students. For tickets, call the Box Office at 603-358-2168 or visit

KSC theatre faculty member PeggyRae Johnson will direct the play that she describes as a romantic comedy with a message about a parent’s concern, support and love for a child. She adapted the play to run 90 minutes without intermission by rewriting the first scene to explain why the main character Prospero, the banished Duke of Milan and a magician, conjures up a storm to bring people to the island where he has been banished with his daughter for 12 years.

“I wanted to explore the question of why on one day does someone who has spent decades of his life mastering the magical arts, break his magic staff and destroy his magical books,” said Johnson. “All of the magic he has learned cannot give him immortality, and he has to make a choice about his daughter Miranda’s future.”

Prospero realizes his own mortality and the fact that Miranda would be alone on the island with the monster Caliban. So, Prospero casts spells to create a tempest, causing a shipwreck of the enemies who caused his banishment; the son of one of those enemies becomes Miranda’s love interest.

The Tempest is considered the last play written solely by Shakespeare. Following this play, he co-wrote two others, working as a mentor to apprentice John Fletcher, which was the way playwrights mastered their art in the early 17th century when this play made its stage debut. The adaptation will allow students, who are more familiar with Shakespeare as literature, to experience the play as theatre, especially the first-year students reading The Tempest as part of KSC’s Keene is Reading text for new students.

Johnson places the action on the island of Haiti, rather than the Bermudas, where historically the Sea Venture capsized in a storm on its way to Jamestown in 1609, a year before Shakespeare penned The Tempest. Everyone was presumed dead on board, but a year later the ship, repaired by the stranded crew, sailed into Jamestown with most hands on deck. This real life event likely was an inspiration for Shakespeare’s play. Johnson was inspired to use Haiti as the setting for this production to bring focus to a place where people are still suffering – homeless and abandoned like Prospero and Miranda – after an earthquake and hurricanes, most recently Sandy, which further devastated the island before flooding New York City and the New Jersey coast.

The cast is headed by KSC Theatre Professor Daniel Patterson of Keene, N.H., as Prospero and student Ryan Connell of Greenfield, Mass., as Miranda. KSC theatre alumni Chris Kelly, who resides in Peterborough, N.H., is in the cast along with community members Abigail Gill, who is a student at Monadnock Regional High School in Swanzey, N.H., and understudy Cindy Cheshire, a staff member at the Newman Center in Keene, N.H.

Other KSC students in the cast are: Will Adams of Avon, Conn.; Lynsey Beatrice of Sutton, Mass.; Abbie Brown of Dublin, N.H.; Dan Bullard of Bangor, Maine; Elissa Fredeen of Monroe, Conn.; Cara Gerardi of Dennis, Mass.; Michelle Hayes of Boylston, Mass.; Aaron Howland of Winchester, N.H.; Matthew McDougal of Keene, N.H.; Molly Millard of Barrington, R.I.; and Katherine Wadleigh of Hollis., N.H. Katie Knox of Windsor, Vt., is an understudy. Jillian Strazzere of Wilmington, Mass., is the stage manager. Arienne Stearns of Milford, N.H., and Rebecca Yankowitz of Glastonbury, Conn., are assistant stage managers.

About Keene State Theatre and Dance Department

The Department of Theatre and Dance is dedicated to providing a comprehensive course of study that balances theory and practice within a sound liberal arts education. The collaborative nature of theatre and dance disciplines fosters an atmosphere in which students work closely with peers and faculty to gain practical experience in all facets or production and critical engagement. As artists and teachers, our primary focus is to encourage and guide our students as they find their creative voices and experience and question the world through the arts. For more information about the Theatre and Dance Department, visit or call 603-358-2162.

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