Academy of Music and Drama
A sound installation opera at Röda Sten Konsthall with students from the Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg
At the conclusion of Shakespeare’s Tempest, Prospero breaks his staff and leaves the island to Caliban and the spirits, whom he has freed from his servitude. He, Miranda, Ferdinand and the rest of the cast return back home for Italy where he will rule again.
What is left on the island is Prospero’s castle that is (presumably) haunted by spirits such as Ariel and the lonely figure of Caliban who, during this time, pens the poem Caliban upon Setebos (by the English poet Robert Browning), his reflections on the god that he and his deceased mother Sycorax worship.
But there is more that is left in the wake of Prospero’s rein on the island: a land that was once fertile with native vegetation is now left as an abandoned garden, a symbol for the damages inflicted by Western colonial practices in non-Western countries (since Shakespeare intended the island itself as a symbol for the new world). Prospero’s castle echoes with many voices, many sounds that reveal the difficult history that he had instilled upon the island and its “people”.
Can a story be told in Prospero’s absence? Propseros Slott is an attempt to tell such a story from the perspective of the sounds and echoes of a history that now only reverberates in the empty chambers of an abandoned castle, occasionally inhabited by the figure of Caliban. Prosperos Slott defines a new kind of opera, one that departs from a dramatic theater with characters and conflicts and suggests ideas indirectly through how one experiences sound acoustically in architectural spaces.
Prosperos Slott is a walk through various sound installations and performances at Röda Sten Konsthall where the experience of each installation and performance furthers the idea of what has been left in Prospero’s wake. The purpose is not so much to create a descriptive narrative, but rather an idea and feeling about the aftermath of Shakespeare’s Tempest and its larger implications of Western colonialism. Indeed, every space has its history and it is hoped that the experience of Prosperos Slott can make one more sensitive to the histories of spaces we inhabit every day.