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Shakespeare, Steampunk style

Shakespeare, Steampunk style

Stagecraft Theatre will be presenting Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, with a Steampunk-styled twist from 19 November, at the Gryphon Theatre, in Ghuznee Street – just in time to co-incide with the Aethercon 2014 Steampunk Convention.

Director, Benjamin Haddock, has taken the science fiction elements from the Steampunk genre and constructed a new look for the classic ship-wreck tale, beginning with setting the opening of the story after an air-ship wreck.

"I had wanted to do the play with a particular style and had been thinking about how you would use the Steampunk elements with the Shakespearean text and characters” says Benjamin.

“Once I had the idea to change it to a group of survivors on an island after an air-ship wreck, the rest of the setting fell into place."

This means the story of Prospero the magician, exiled on a deserted island, becomes that of a genius inventor, living on a massive mechanical "island" which can all be controlled with switches, buttons and levers.

In the process of researching for the play Benjamin has uncovered some true fans who live and breathe Steampunk and have been invaluable in offering their stylistic advice.

Wellington locals Jane and Leslie Craven, who can be frequently seen around the capital dressed in Steampunk style, have been on hand to guide and assist the large costume design and construction team.

But it is the weapons, supplied by Hanley Soloway, Sutlers, a local business devoted to making Steampunk style replica "weapons of brass destruction" that has the director particularly excited.

"I've had to make a rule that no one can touch the props unless they are using them on stage at the time, as each weapon is a brilliantly crafted piece, and we are very grateful that we are able to use them.

“Also I know that I would want to play with them if I was backstage, so I really made the rule for myself."

Hanley Soloway, Sutlers will have similar items on display in the foyer of the Gryphon theatre, for sale in the intermission of the play.

Because there is a Steampunk Convention on at the same time as the play, it is possible some real die-hard fans of the genre will be in the audience, so authenticity to the style has been important throughout the production of this play. And if there are fans in the audience, Benjamin hopes they will also be dressed in their distinctive costumes. On Friday the 21st of November, the audience are invited to come in their own Steampunk costume, and there will be a competition for the best dressed.

"The Tempest" runs at the Gryphon Theatre on Ghuznee Street from 19 – 29 November. Tickets can be bought at or via iTicket on 0508 484253. Door sales are sometimes available.

The Steampunk Convention, Aethercon 2014, runs 20 – 23 November with an optional night out at The Tempest on Friday 21 November.


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