Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds. Read more...
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Felix is at the top of his game as Artistic Director of the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. His productions have amazed and confounded. Now he's staging a Tempest like no other: not only will it boost his reputation, it will heal emotional wounds.
Or that was the plan. Instead, after an act of unforeseen treachery, Felix is living in exile in a backwoods hovel, haunted by memories of his beloved lost daughter, Miranda. And also brewing revenge.
After twelve years, revenge finally arrives in the shape of a theatre course at a nearby prison. Here, Felix and his inmate actors will put on his Tempest and snare the traitors who destroyed him. It's magic But will it remake Felix as his enemies fall?
Margaret Atwood's novel take on Shakespeare's play of enchantment, retribution, and second chances leads us on an interactive, illusion-ridden journey filled with new surprises and wonders of its own.
- ISBN-13: 9780804141291
- ISBN-10: 0804141290
- Publisher: Hogarth Press
- Publish Date: October 2016
- Page Count: 320
- Dimensions: 8.1 x 4.9 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.85 pounds
Series: Hogarth Shakespeare
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-08-22
- Reviewer: Staff
In The Tempest, Prospero is not just exiled king, magician, and father, he’s an impresario staging multiple shows: the storm that strands his enemies on the island; his pretended disdain for Ferdinand, whom he intends for his daughter, Miranda; the play within the play; and, some critics argue, the play itself. In this, the fourth Hogarth Shakespeare adaptation, Atwood underscores these elements by making her Prospero a prominent theater festival director. After being done out of his job by a scheming underling, Felix goes off-grid, teaching literacy and theater to prisoners and grieving a lost daughter. When he learns that the man who took his job, now a political bigwig, will attend the next production, he sees his chance: in this Tempest, it won’t just be Prospero who gets revenge. Former diva Felix is a sly and inventive director and teacher who listens to his cast’s input, and his efforts to shape the play and his plot make for compelling reading. If, at the end, things tie up a little too neatly, the same might be said of the original, and Atwood’s canny remix offers multiple pleasures: seeing the inmates’ takes on their characters, watching Felix make use of the limited resources the prison affords (legal and less so), and marveling at the ways she changes, updates, and parallels the play’s magic, grief, vengeance, and showmanship. 125,000-copy announced first printing. (Oct.)
Shakespeare behind bars
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood’s retelling of The Tempest, is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, in which contemporary authors reimagine some of the Bard’s most famous plays. The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, a former duke exiled with his daughter, Miranda, to a deserted island, where he studies sorcery and plots revenge. Hag-Seed sticks close to the play’s themes of magic, retribution and illusion, yet Atwood finds a way to root the story in contemporary Canada with satisfying results.
Felix is about to stage a brand new production of The Tempest, starring himself as Prospero, when he is unceremoniously ousted from his position as artistic director at the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. Widowed and still mourning the death of his young daughter, Miranda, he moves to an isolated farmhouse in the country, changes his name to Mr. Duke and indulges in dreams of vengeance and painful memories of his lost family. Over a decade later, Felix is running a drama program in a local prison. When rumors reach him that funding for the program is going to be cut and that the politicians who hold the purse strings have ties to his former workplace, the opportunity to retaliate is too promising to pass up. Felix decides that the time is right for the inmates to perform The Tempest.
Used to more swashbuckling fare, like Macbeth and Henry IV, the prisoners are reluctant to take on a play with fairies, monsters and songs. But Felix finds ways to engage his cast. Soon, the inmates are fighting over playing the spirit Ariel and writing additional tunes for Caliban. Incarceration allows them to identify with the characters who are most confined by circumstances, and as much as Felix exploits their empathy, he is also transformed by it.
Atwood has tremendous fun with Hag-Seed. Those who know the play will especially enjoy her artful treatment of its more poignant storylines. But even someone unfamiliar with Shakespeare will by entertained by this compelling tale of enchantment and second chances, and the rough magic it so delightfully embodies.