RSC Live Brings The Tempest From Stage to Screen

Deb Miller Landau iQ Managing Editor
The Tempest

After its live run in Stratford Upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) takes its unprecedented tech-fueled performance of The Tempest from the stage to the silver screen, in theaters around the U.S.

When the Royal Shakespeare Company’s reimagining of The Tempest hit the stage in 2016, newspapers in the UK gushed: The Guardian called it a “kaleidoscopic visual spectacle.” The Telegraph lauded its “Lord of the Rings-style magic.”

Now, Shakespeare fans don’t have to go to England to see this unprecedented, technology-infused production that brought movie-style special effects to the stage.

At movie theaters around the U.S. in March and April, audiences can witness the spectacle created by Andy Serkis’s The Imaginarium Studios, the RSC and Intel. To see if The Tempest is playing in your city, click here

While watching on the screen is no substitute for going to live theater, said John Wyver, director of screen productions at the RSC, this production offers a parallel experience – one that translates artistic director Gregory Doran’s creative vision in the most immediate and involving way possible.

“The cinema audience should feel that they are watching the production along with the audience in Stratford,” says Wyver. “[They are] sharing their excitement, their wonder, their emotional involvement — and indeed the sense of jeopardy that is at the heart of live performance.”

The Tempest

It’s not the first time that the RSC has broadcast one of its plays live.

“This cinema screening of The Tempest is the thirteenth presentation of RSC Live from Stratford-upon-Avon,” said Wyver. “It’s an initiative that we started with a showing of Richard II in 2013. Our aim is that by 2021 we will have presented in this form each of the 36 plays in Shakespeare’s First Folio.”

Rather than film The Tempest during its run at Stratford and showcase it like a traditional film afterwards, the RSC ‘live’ element is central to retaining that raw theatrical feel.

The Tempest

Every aspect of The Tempest, from Simon Russell Beale’s haunting Prospero to Mark Quartley’s other-worldly Ariel, is captured in a dynamic form for the screen.

The production was shot with several cameras that captured the action from multiple angles. These were then mixed live by a screen director.

This gives moviegoers the best, most emotionally engaging viewpoint of the performance every step of the way, with close-up, high-def detail that a seat in the Stratford stalls just can’t match.

“In addition, we live mix more than a hundred channels of audio,” revealed Wyver. “From radio mics on each of the characters, from the band room, and from mics providing ambient sound from the auditorium. This conjures up a perspectival 5.1 audio mix that matches the visuals shot by shot.”

It’s easy to underestimate the impact a live broadcast like this can have. It enables the RSC to reach a much broader audience and offers millions of people the chance to see a world-class, live theater production for little more than the price of a movie ticket.

The Tempest is being broadcast as part of the RSC’s ‘Live From Stratford-upon-Avon’ program to theaters across the U.S. in March and April. To see the full schedule of cities and dates, visit www.rsc.org.uk/the-tempest/in-cinemas.

An earlier version of this article appeared on our iQ UK site. 

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