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Prospero's Island by David Calcutt

Prospero, fleeing Milan, is thrown overboard in a terrible storm. He washes up on an island, which is inhabited by the sorceress Sycorax, and Ariel, her creation. 


He marries Sycorax, and Caliban is their child. Miranda is magically created by Sycorax from flowers, as a bride for Caliban.


But then, Prospero conspires with Ariel to steal Sycorax's magic...


Prospero’s Island is a kind of "prequel" to The Tempest. The writer David Calcutt drew on a Welsh myth which he believes inspired Shakespeare in the first place – the story of Blodeuwedd, a beautiful maiden who is conjured up by two magicians, Math and Gwydion, from “the flowers of the oak, and the flowers of the broom, and the flowers of the meadowsweet”. (The same story inspired Alan Garner to write The Owl Service.)


Calcutt’s play, then, seeks the ur-myth behind The Tempest. Sycorax is a nature goddess. She embodies a kind of primal magic, which is stolen and usurped by Prospero. Her defeat signals a shift: the “earth goddess” is vanquished, to be replaced by a “brave new world” ruled over by men...


Our new production Descent (by David Calcutt and Sarah Sayeed) also draws on the myth of the “earth goddess.” See here for more details.

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