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The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

First Look at Furman Theatre’s Our Tempest

Furman Theatre collaborates with playwright Jake Brasch on exciting new work.
Left to right: Katie McDaniel ’26, Nath Kapoor ’23, Mae Mae Collins ’25, Savannah Jones ’25, David Jones ’25, Anna Muh ’23, Matt Butler ’25

On April 11th, Furman Theatre will present the second full production of Our Tempest, a new play by Jake Brasch. The company is working in collaboration with the Farm Theatre College Collaboration Project, which facilitates collaborations between playwrights and college companies to bring a new play to life. Until now, the play has only been performed once before , and Brasch is working closely with the company to update the drama. I sat in on a rehearsal of one of the many compelling scenes to watch the company bring the show to life.

Our Tempest follows a college theatre group that embarks on a woodland retreat in the Spring of 2021 to stage their own version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest that focuses on the issue of climate change, their first show post-pandemic. I was able to witness a central scene in the play, where tensions over how they are depicting the issues dissolve into interpersonal conflicts.

The company was certainly on their A game last week, even after reviewing new changes to the scene just before they took to the main stage. I was completely engrossed in their conflict even as they stood on a half-constructed set, wanting to know all the buildup to each weighted comment and dramatic outburst. They were practicing for a visit from Brasch later in the week, so I have no doubt that the characters and dynamics will have evolved even more by the premiere. In the rehearsal, director Caroline Davis urged the actors to take the action as far as they could, to take risks, which they did to amazing effect.

“This company has been wonderful in the way that they engage with the work,” said dramaturg Paige Hemmer. “Everyone is willing to jump straight in.” Hemmer said that her job is to facilitate the connection between the actors and the playwright and to make sure that everyone is on the same page about the material. Hemmer takes immense pride in the fact that the design scene for this production is almost completely student run. “Everyone has equal power to make things happen,” she said. “This is a new text so there is a sense of everyone coming together to make something.”

 I got to speak to the cast about the experience of working closely with the Brasch and the company to craft the drama. Mae Mae Collins says that table work has been so “enriching” for her and she has enjoyed digging into the script with her castmates. Nath Kapoor has found this material relatable to his work as a dins dialogue facilitator. “It’s always great to coalesce learning from other areas of campus into theatre making,” he said “[The play] talks a lot about how we communicate and how we can do it well. Kapoor says that the play is “not just about climate change or queerness, but now we deal with struggle and how we embody it.”

David Jones is contributing doubly to the production as both an actor and a costume designer, and he has enjoyed the collaborative experience. He says that being present in rehearsals has helped immensely with costume construction because he can “really get into the headspace of the characters.”

“I don’t feel like I have to act,” said Matt Butler, who relates to his character, who he describes as a “goofy frat guy” that enjoys theatre. “This show is awesome,” he said. “The play is high energy and fun, but so relevant to the fears we face as college students, and has been an awesome process to be a part of.”

Davis says that she hoped collaborating with playwrights will be a new norm in Furman Theatre and is excited for the hands on work that the company will be doing with the writer. Our Tempest opens on Tuesday, April 11. It will run until April 16, with performances at 7:30 PM Tuesday -Friday and 2PM Saturday – Sunday in the playhouse. You will not want to miss this compelling show!

Warning: This show is intended for mature audiences due to language, situations and drug use. Audiences should also be aware of flashing lights and the use of a fog machine.

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