The Tempest by William Shakespeare and A Rock & Roll Space Odyssey by John Williams

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The Tempest, A Rock and Roll Space Odyssey is a nuanced rendition of William Shakespeare’s last play by the same name. The stage, shaped as a sector of a circle, was well lit by stage lights which luminesce with soft light, as well as numerous overhead ones which provide brighter light for illuminating the characters and the stage. The play uses light and darkness to call to attention several critical elements of the plot and ensure the audience focuses on them. The large display at the back of the stage also changes color and imagery as appropriate to the progression of the narrative. The costumes are an amalgamation of Victorian-era clothing, and futuristic designs; reminiscent of a species which has acquired the ability to traverse the medium of space ("The Tempest | Full Play | A Rock And Roll Space Odyssey", 2018). Unlike Shakespeare’s original casting choice, however, Prospero in The Tempest a Rock and Roll Space Odyssey,

is played by a lady. While this might be a deviation from the casting choices of the writer, it does lend a hand to the plight of women in a predominately patriarchal society. In these ways, the stage, lighting, costumes and casting choices are meant to utilize contemporary elements to capture the attention of viewers today, and also accentuate the thematic pillars of the Shakespearian play. 

            The play has a somber mood, particularly at the beginning when Prospero and Miranda struggle to cope while stranded on the island. Miranda communicates the majority of this tone, as she is frustrated by their living arrangements and yearns for something more. Despite its somber mood, the play does contain some light-hearted moments. For instance, the exposition concerning how Prospero and Miranda arrived on the island is somewhat funny due to the pop music the play employs in the background as well as the adaptation of spacecraft as a means of escape, rather than the sea ships used during Shakespeare’s time. The parts of the play that were easier to comprehend include; the struggles that Prospero and Miranda face as they live in exile and the intricacies of the relationships that they create with other inhabitants of the island. Prospero’s plan to seek out vengeance upon his traitorous brother and those who assisted to dethrone him and rob his daughter, Miranda of her royal inheritance. Another aspect that became clearer when watching the play is Prospero’s use of Ariel to manipulate things to his advantage. The play also uses rock and roll music to provide further insight into the characters, and by extension, the plot ("The Tempest | Full Play | A Rock And Roll Space Odyssey", 2018). The parts of the play that stood out include; its rendition of the flashback sequence explaining how Miranda and Prospero got to the island, Prospero’s use of Ariel and magic to get his way, and Miranda’s growth from a person secluded from the world to a Duchess of Milan.

            In a world where the film has become the preferred type of content to consume among many art lovers, the play The Tempest, A Rock and Roll Space Odyssey stands out as a truly spectacular and entertaining piece of artistic expression. Not only does the original play, Shakespeare’s The Tempest provoke emotional, ethical and logical thought, but the rendition adds elements of contemporary culture which make it resonate better with current audiences (Sayre, 2012). These nuanced aspects also ensure the play is both true to Shakespeare’s core ideas in his Tempest, as well as entertaining as it uses contemporary music, costume design and at times phrases that are well known to the audience. In this regard, the play is a testament that cinema has not wholly overshadowed theater and that the later remains as valid medium a of expression as it was during the Shakespearian era.



Sayre, H. (2012). Discovering the humanities (2nd ed.). Pearson.

The Tempest | Full Play | A Rock And Roll Space Odyssey. (2018). YouTube. Retrieved 22        January 2018, from

November 24, 2023

Art Literature

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Theatre Literature Review

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