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Stafford Festival Shakespeare set for magical production with a little help from Morgan & West

The opening of Stafford Festival Shakespeare is just two weeks away and this year audiences can expect a true feast of magic and wonder for the production of The Tempest at Stafford Castle, thanks in no small part to the contribution of magicians and the production’s Illusion Consultants, Morgan & West.

Acknowledged as Shakespeare’s final solo play, The Tempest is widely celebrated as one of The Bard’s most enchanting works. It follows the story of Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, who becomes stranded on a largely uninhabited island where music, magic and supernatural creatures provide a strange education for him and his young daughter, Miranda.

This twentieth century production is set against the backdrop of the glamour and elegance of the 1930s – the golden age of luxury cruise liners, Hollywood glamour and the dying days of vaudeville – all from a small Italian occupied island off the coast of Somalia.

To help accentuate the magical themes of the play, magicians Rhys Morgan and Robert West will be consulting on the tricks of their trade during rehearsals in order to support the wider vision of the Creative Team, led by Director Clare Prenton, for the production at Stafford Castle.

Earlier this year, the self-professed “time travellers and all-round spiffing chaps” performed two hugely popular shows in the MET Studio at Stafford Gatehouse Theatre in their signature Victoriana style. Having received a warm welcome during their brief stay in the County Town, the pair are excited to be retuning this summer to assist in preparations for The Tempest:

“We don’t often get chance to be part of proper theatre. It’s also nice to be somewhere we’re quite familiar with because we’ve performed [at the Gatehouse Theatre] a couple of times” commented Morgan & West.

On the similarities between the early 20th Century setting of the play this year and their own Victorian-themed act, the duo said:

“It did have a bearing on our involvement, not so much our act, but more because the 1920s and 30s was a time of lots of magic in theatres – the end of Vaudeville and before TV. [Magic at this time] was starting to move away from being a very insular, secretive hobby to one that lots of people had greater access to. And there were lots of old fashioned tricks that nobody does anymore because it involved things like, having a cane or a pair of white gloves, that fit really nicely with the setting [for the play].”

Looking ahead to what audiences can expect to see in terms of the magical elements of this year’s production, they said:

“It’s an interesting one because it’s a mix of conjuring and actual magic – because the character of Prospero has genuine magical powers, including spirits and that kind of stuff, so it’s working with that element. But also, the character Prospero as ‘The Duke of Milan’, is meant to be a fan of “The Liberal Arts” (as it says in the text), and this production is casting him as a fan of magic, which a lot of rich blokes of the 20s and 30s were. So it gives us scope to do fun tricks as well as looking at the darker magic arts, so to speak!”

The Tempest will open on Thursday 22nd June and run untilSaturday 8th July 2017 at Stafford Castle. Tickets start at £13.50 and can be purchased from the box office on 01785 619080 or by visiting www.staffordfestivalshakespeare.com

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Box Office: 01785 619080
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