TOP hats, leather masks, cyborg eye sockets and corsets will take over the stage in a ”Steampunk” cabaret recreation of The Tempest, as part of this year’s Sydney Fringe Festival. It’s Shakespeare meets ’90s film Wild Wild West in an adaption that combines a 400 year-old play with a growing modern subculture to explore humans’ love affair with technology.
”Steampunk”, influenced by Victorian-era fashion garnished with brass accessories resembling gadgets from science fiction fantasy, forms the basis of John Galea’s contemporary adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s last works.
”It’s Victorian-era but not as you know it. Ray guns, Tesla coils, cogs, goggles and airships,” the director and producer John Galea said. ”Steampunk is where you have the same sort of post-modernist mash up going on, but it’s more in the Jules Verne clockwork machine, an alternative Victorian-era history.”
Galea initially prepared to stage The Tempest in a sci-fi setting, in the vein of Star Wars or Star Trek, but adopted a ”Steampunk” theme after attending a cabaret party.
”For any other Shakespeare, it may not work but because The Tempest is a fantasy to start with set on a tropical island, it lends itself really easily to that change of scene,” Galea said.
It took little time for the unusual setting to be adorned by the actors, who knew little of the subculture before auditions.
”I didn’t know much about it until now but when we did a fund-raiser for this a few weeks ago, it attracted so many people who dressed up in Steampunk and they looked amazing,” the actor Bernadette Galea said. ”I quite like wearing a corset now.”
Speaking at a final dress rehearsal at Rosebank College, Five Dock, the actor John Michael Burdon who plays Caliban, as a cyborg-like creature, believes the theatricality of Steampunk feeds into the element of fantasy Shakespeare created when writing The Tempest in 1611.
”I think because of the magical element and that they’re deserted on an island, it gives the illusion that it’s in another world. Burdon said. ”I think a lot of people who play The Tempest play into that magical world.
The Tempest is running from the August 29-September 8 at Sidetrack Theatre, Marrickville as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival.
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