HRVHS stirs up timely themes in "The Tempest"

The Hood River Valley High School Performing Arts Department is on a roll. Last fall, a cast of more than 70 students put on a stupendous production of “Les Misérables” to sold out crowds and local critical acclaim.

Now, the department is taking on William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” under the direction of Rachel Krummel. The cast of 29 is considerably smaller than “Les Mis,” but the show promises to be just as entertaining.

“The Tempest,” one of Shakespeare’s last plays, is set in the 1600s on an island where Prospero (played by Hans Severinsen), the former Duke of Milan, and his fetching young daughter, Miranda (played by Amanda Rickenbach), have been castaways. They have survived for 12 years by relying on the natives to provide for them — primarily a lithe magical spirit named Ariel (played by Laila Winner) and a surly half man-half beast called Caliban (played by Jordan Emerson).

When Miranda is 15, Prospero learns that his nemesis, brother Antonio (played by Russ Dodge), and his former partner in crime, King Alonso (played by Luke Webb), are sailing past the island on their way home from Alonso’s daughter’s wedding. Prospero enlists Ariel and her water spirits to create a huge storm that causes the wedding party to shipwreck. Ariel gets the castaways safely to the island, where various adventures ensue.

Krummel’s production moves quickly, due to some revising of the play. She also expanded the role of the water spirits, and hired professional choreographer Jana Hannigan to create what she calls “the movement and soundscape.” The result is a fast-paced comedy with “lots of eye candy,” Krummel says.

But along with much laughter, the play also has a darker, serious side.

“As the director, I have chosen to focus on the theme of ‘power corrupts,’” Krummel says. “I treasure directing Shakespeare because of the myriad opportunities there are in interpretation of his stories.” As the play progresses, several story lines — and different characters’ battles with one another — eventually intertwine and come together.

“Throughout the play, Shakespeare makes cynical comments about his society and the lack of real humanity,” Krummel says. “He disparages the tendency of his culture to treat foreign countries and the native population as inferior simply because of the differences.” Krummel says that during the course of rehearsals over the past couple of months, the students have had a “growing awareness” of Shakespeare’s voice within the play.

“It’s inspired many a spirited discussion about our inhumanity to others simply because of differences, of how throughout history, a dominant country will enslave the native population to gain power and make money,” Krummel says.

The cast has studied Elizabethan style and Shakespearean scansion techniques — rhythm and meter — to learn how to deliver their lines intelligently. And though Bowe Theatre is far from Shakespeare’s Globe playhouse, the student actors do an impressive job with often difficult and potentially tongue-tying Shakespearean banter.

Likewise, Krummel has taken a potentially challenging set design and made it simple. A beach slanting into the unseen ocean is the setting for most scenes. The rest — including surreal dances by Ariel and her spirits — take place in the theatre aisles among the audience. Don’t plan on dozing during this play.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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