Intro to Sounds and Sweet Airs

Magic is at the heart of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The play’s central character, Prospero, is learned in the ways of magic, both from reading up on the subject and through tapping into the magical forces of the island that he and his daughter, Miranda, find themselves marooned upon. The island had been home to Sycorax, a witch, who died before Prospero and Miranda’s arrival. Although Sycorax is gone her influence remains in the form of Ariel, a spirit she trapped in a tree, whom Prospero liberates, and in the form of her son, Caliban, who Prospero initially adopts, then, after he tries raping Miranda, enslaves. Prospero, in effect, enslaves Ariel, as well. Ariel becomes his extension. Via Ariel the magical core of Sycorax’s island is externalized. Caliban internalizes magic. Lacking Prospero’s erudition, he cannot harness the magical forces that are his birthright. His mother never taught him how. She died before she had a chance. Shakespeare wrote a beautiful soliloquy wherein Caliban expresses his painful wonder. This animation animates that soliloquy. Yet I could not animate the soliloquy without visually melding it to a performer. The performer I chose was Legs Malone. Why meld Caliban with a beautiful burlesque diva? Well, I am not really melding Caliban with Legs Malone. Rather, I am melding the words Caliban speaks with the image of Legs Malone. This is not too far off in that the roots of Caliban as a theatrical figure lay in commedia dell’arte, much as the roots of burlesque lay in commedia dell’arte. Specifically, Caliban has roots in the commedia dell’arte character, Pulcinella. Caliban is a comedic monster Shakespeare’s genius transforms into a beautiful, surreal monster. Modern burlesque appreciates such monsters. I do believe the current resurgence of burlesque has more than a little to do with modern burlesque’s ability to render the surreal side of beauty. I find Legs Malone surreally beautiful.

Animation duration: 9 minutes and 48 seconds, before looping.

Peter Schmideg

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