For the last three nights, our all-female, fully nude production of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest has played to sold-out houses in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. (Well, tickets are free, so maybe “sold out” isn’t precisely the right phrase. But packed houses. Standing room only. Let’s call it that.)
The show is different in Brooklyn than it was in Central Park in May. The performance space is less isolated, so random pedestrians walking by are more likely to stumble across a mystifying and magical scene. The bulk of the audience is watching from an elevated pagoda, and the lawn before it is flat, reversing the earlier dynamics (in Central Park, most audience members sat on the ground and the stage had a variety of vertical levels). And two new actresses, one new dancer and a new pair of musicians have joined the cast, appearing in new costumes and new body paint.
But the script is the same — the same timeless fable of exile and liberation, of vengeance melting into forgiveness, told in some of the most beautiful verse ever crafted. And once again we celebrate the female body in all its variety and wondrous versatility. Our cast displays tenderness, rage, horror. wonder, despair, elation — the full range of human experience, giving the lie to the premise that a naked women conveys only one thing: sexuality.