Shortened show a great version for children

By Zacch Estrada-Petersen

DAVIDSON – This weekend, Davidson Community Players’ Connie Company will present their interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” featuring a cast of 15 teenage actors.

“The Connie Company is the youth division of the Davidson Community Players,” Brianna Smith, education coordinator for DCP, said. “We offer ensembles for ages 8-18, and we do productions with youth casts throughout the year.”

Now in its 47th season, the Davidson Community Players group is the 2011 winner of the North Carolina Theatre Conference “Community Theatre of the Year” award.

Officially published in 1623, “The Tempest” is the story of a magician and his daughter who are stranded on a deserted island for 12 years. As part of the musician’s plot to lure his captors back to the island, he conjures up a storm of immense magnitude – hence the play’s title.

Directed by Wrenn Goodrum, the 75-minute Connie Company production is a “stripped-down and ramped-up” version of the play, which in its original form would normally run for over two hours.

“The fact that it’s a cutting makes it a little easier for students to work through and to process,” Smith said. “The director actually did that, so the concept is entirely hers. It’s something that she came up with for this production, but it’s still the original Shakespeare.”

Aside from Goodrum’s directorial work, Smith said the show’s performers had a hand in shaping the costumes, sets, lighting and props used in the production.

“There are so many interesting things visually,” Smith said. “And some very interesting relationships to work off of that I think open an audience’s eyes to how different Shakespeare can be, when it’s usually done in a way that’s very dry.”

The cast members, who range in age from 12 to 19, met for two and a half hours a day, three days a week for the six weeks leading up to opening night. During the final week, they met for up to four hours a day.

For the youth working in the production, the play is a culmination of all their dedication and effort over a month-and-a-half period, but the audience has much to look forward to as well.

“We’re very excited,” Smith said, “And we think that it’s a great opportunity for teachers to send their students, and for parents to introduce their children to Shakespeare in a way that’s very non-traditional.”