The Tempest has adapted on a scale that might even eclipse that of Hamlet, so exhaustiveness is a lost cause. As I did for Hamlet, I’m instead going to list a fairly arbitrary assortment of things. The only criteria are that 1) there must be something interesting about them, and 2) they must be easy to find, or at least it must be easy to find enough information about them to start a conversation.
As Prof. Greetham pointed out, from the mid-17th to mid-19th centuries The Tempest was mainly performed in versions other than Shakespeare’s. An important adaptation that we will be discussing in class is The Tempest, or The Enchanted Isle by William D’Avenant and John Dryden. Scott Palmer recently directed a production of this play in Hillsboro, OR, and recorded this discussion of his intentions:
There was also a recent production at the University of Hall, which is discussed in this academic paper:
There is a Gutenberg edition of the actual play here:
Robert Browning’s “Caliban upon Setebos” is available on RapGenius, where an online community of amateur poetry annotators has been rapidly developing:
A more recent play adaptation is Une Tempête (1969) by the Martiniquan writer Aimé Césaire, which takes a postcolonial approach to the story. Here is a video of a performance (in French):
Here are English translations of a few excerpts of the play:
The full play can be found in both English and French editions at NYPL.
Among Shakespeare’s plays, The Tempest has proven exceptionally popular among musical adapters. Wikipedia claims that “at least forty-six operas or semi-operas based on The Tempest exist”, and lists an imposing number of choral, orchestral, and ballet works. One of the best-known orchestral works is Tchaikovsky’s The Tempest fantasy. There is a video of a performance of this work on YouTube:
The indie rock band The Decemberists have a multi-part song called “The Island: Come and See/The Landlord’s Daughter/You’ll Not Feel The Drowning” that is based on The Tempest. It is available on YouTube:
Just two-odd weeks ago, the David H. Koch theater opened its fall season with a new ballet adaptation of The Tempest by Alexei Ratmansky, with music by Jean Sibelius. I can’t find any info about upcoming performances (if there are any), but here are a couple of reviews:
There was recently a contemporary dance adaptation of The Tempest called The Tempest Replica (2011), directed by Kidd Pivot. Here are some excerpts from a performance:
Here is a review:
The earliest film based on The Tempest was a 1905 silent film that depicted the storm in Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s production of the play. The earliest film that I have been able to track down online, however, is from 1908, and was directed by Percy Stow:
It has captions explaining what is happening in each scene, but no dialogue. It also has some pretty nifty special effects for 1908.
Yellow Sky is a 1948 Western film with a similar plot to The Tempest, starring Gregory Peck. It is available in full on YouTube:
The 1956 sci-fi film Forbidden Planet is also allegedly based on The Tempest. The DVD is available at NYPL. Here is the trailer:
There was a 1957 radio play adaptation of the film, which is available here:
Derek Jarman directed a queer film version of The Tempest that premiered in 1979. It is available streaming on NetFlix, as well as at NYPL. Here is a review that includes a clip:
I won’t list all of the BBC productions that have been made over the years, but this short 1992 “animated tales” version could be fun. It’s online here:
Trancers 4: Jack of Swords is a ridiculous-looking 1994 movie in which a time-traveling cop has to defeat the “evil Lord Caliban” with the help of Caliban’s “rebellious son Prospero”. It doesn’t seem to have much to do with The Tempest, but I include it because the seemingly arbitrary appropriation of names from the play might be relevant to a discussion of how Shakespeare has diffused into our culture—perhaps they are not meant to call The Tempest in particular to mind, but just to create a vague association with Shakespeareanness that helps to establish the time period in which the action takes place. In any case, here is a detailed review of the movie and its sequel:
There is a 2010 Hollywood film adaptation starring Helen Mirren as Prospera. You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, while it lasts:
Zetsuen No Tempest is an anime series based on The Tempest which ran for 24 episodes. You can watch the first episode online here:
It was based on a manga series of the same name.
The final issue of Neil Gaiman’s comic book series The Sandman borrows some aspects from the play, while also depicting Shakespeare’s composition of it. It is collected in the compilation The Sandman: The Wake, which you can get from Medgar Evers.
After last class, a few of us were talking about the old children’s TV series Wishbone, which did a version of The Tempest in 1996. Here it is on YouTube, in three parts:
Back in 2003, the Royal Shakespeare Company was apparently planning to produce a Tempest video game, in collaboration with MIT. Nothing seems to have come of it, but here is a press-releaseish article:
There have been a number of recordings of songs from the play, in both traditional and new settings. Pete Seeger recorded a version of “Full Fathom Five” for his album Dangerous Songs!?, which you can find on Spotify. The goth band Miranda Sex Garden did a choral version of “Full Fathom Five”, and the sludge-metal band Harvey Milk recorded a bizarre rendition of “Where the Bee Sucks There Suck I”. The name “Full Fathom Five” has also been appropriated numerous times outside of music. It is the title of a Jackson Pollock painting, which is owned by the MoMA:
It is also the name of a young-adult “fiction factory” which was the subject of this exposé in New York magazine:
Finally, here is a video mashup that imagines what a Disney version of The Tempest would look like: