‘The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on’ Part 6 – ‘Opening Night Reflections’ by Caroline Brent

So…after countless hours rehearsing, processing videos, recording voiceovers, constructing a giant chessboard, and studying dream theory, WE’VE MADE IT! Pallas Theatre’s The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on opened yesterday evening, to a packed house. Now with eight more performances to go, we couldn’t be more excited.

Actors move hanging "pawn" lights. Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.
Actors move hanging “pawn” lights. Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.

Our Casting Director Ty Hallmark mentioned the other day that she considers The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on to be a debut of sorts for Pallas Theatre Collective. And while it’s true we have been around for the past two years, this production does feel like a coming-out for us – we have finally arrived. And what better way to arrive than with a show that ties into every aspect of our mission? Mike discussed Pallas’s mission in detail a few weeks ago – here it is again for you:

“Pallas Theatre Collective exists to develop and workshop new, original plays and musicals; to offer new interpretations of canonical works; and to foster a creative environment for artists where new approaches and processes may be explored. This emphasis on the ‘new’ defines the work and spirit of Pallas Theatre, in terms of process, product, and governance. The ethos of ‘the ensemble’, expressed through collective enterprise, collaboration on all possible levels, and community engagement, serves as a guiding principle for Pallas. While experimentation is vigorously supported, the primary focus is upon applied innovation, creating performances that are not only new, but also commercially viable for their intended audience; specifically universities, small theatre groups, and regional theaters. In this respect, Pallas Theatre Collective strives to serve as the vanguard of the neo-avantgarde theatre movement, skillfully combining fun and substance, broad audience appeal with profound and powerful productions.”

(it’s a mouthful, we know).

John Stange (Caliban), Kathleen Mason (Stephano), and Thony Mena (Trinculo)Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.
John Stange (Caliban), Kathleen Mason (Stephano), and Thony Mena (Trinculo).
Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.

The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on touches on almost every piece of this statement – Tracey Chessum and her team have created what I have started to think of as a textbook example of a Pallas Theatre Collective production.

This show marks our first ever full production outside of a Capital Fringe Festival. Pallas had its first performances at the Hollywood Fringe Festival with The Many Women of Troy in 2011, and then we proceeded to drive across the country to our current home in Washington, DC for Capital Fringe. A cabaret or two later, our second season centered around Tracey Chessum’s production of William Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Mirrors, presented at the Studio Theatre – Milton Theatre as part of Capital Fringe. We love Capital Fringe and all it has done to further our company, and our success at Fringe has given us the ability to produce multiple full productions in our season (Ty Hallmark’s production of The Tragical Mirth of Marriage and Love: Short Scenes by Anton Chekhov will be presented in July 2013)! Washington, DC is one of my favorite cities in the country to see theatre, and with this production, Pallas has the opportunity to engage with a brand new community, contributing to the cultural fabric of the Kensington, MD area.

Pallas has always been dedicated to the continued education of its staff and artists, so when Tracey – a musical theatre scholar and historian by trade – proposed a devised and experimental production of Shakespeare, we knew it would be a perfect fit. Tracey, in true Pallas fashion, was determined to try something brand new, an approach that would be a little risky and wildly complicated, but would have an incredible payoff in the end. It has been quite a journey through the world of chess, Freud, and Shakespeare, not only for Tracey and her production team but for actors and staff members as well. Tracey has made her creative process an open book, welcoming staff and members of our Artistic Collective to come to rehearsals and offer thoughts and opinions. It has been a rehearsal process rife with collaboration, discussion, analysis, and reflection – a truly ‘Pallas’ approach.

Brendan Kennedy (Ferdinand), and Kelsey Meiklejohn (Miranda). Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.
Brendan Kennedy (Ferdinand), and Kelsey Meiklejohn (Miranda). Photo courtesy of Pallas Theatre Collective.

As we reached opening night on Thursday, we were eager to share our experiment with the world. John Stange, our Antonio & Caliban and our protagonist in this production, remarked on Thursday, “I’m not looking out for laughter or tears or thunderous applause – I just want [the audience] to really think and reflect.” And while we have received the first three so far, it has been so rewarding to greet audience members who are jumping out of their seats with thoughts and reflection in addition to praise. Tracey has created a show that provokes discussion, a piece of theatre that asks audience members to leave the theater discussing the nuts and bolts of what they have just seen.

So I hope you will come join us in the next few weeks for this profound and powerful production. Tickets are selling fast (we were six away from a sold-out house on opening night), so be sure to reserve your seat early. And when you join us in the Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church social hall, I invite you all to stay after and chat with us – ask us questions, tell us what you thought about our new and experimental production. We can’t wait to hear what you think!


The Tempest plays January 10th – 13th, 17th, 19th, 20th, 24th, 26th, and 27th at 7:30pm at Pallas Theatre Collective at Warner Memorial Presbyterian Church – 10123 Connecticut Avenue, in Kensington, MD. For tickets, purchase them online.


Part One of The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on: Meet Pallas Theatre Collective, by Michael Boynton.

Part Two of The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on: Views from the Chessboard, by Tracey Elaine Chessum, Ph.D.

Part Three of The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on: From The Boardroom, by John Horman.

Part Four of The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on: Chessboards & Sea-faring, by Tracey Elaine Chessum, Ph.D.

Part Five of The Tempest: Such Stuff as Dreams are Made on: Checkmate, by Caroline Brent.


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