The Tempest


Ballet in two acts after William Shakespeare 
Music: Henry Purcell, Thomas Tallis, Robert Johnson, Matthew Locke, Michel van der Aa and traditional Iranian music
World premiere: 18 June 2014, Het Nationale Ballet, Amsterdam
Polish premiere: 9.04.2016, Polish National Ballet, Warsaw
Co-produced by: Het Nationale Ballet

Orchestra of Teatr Wielki  Polish National Opera under Matthew Rowe

Krzysztof Pastor
Matthew Rowe
Set & lighting designer:
Jean Kalman
Tatyana van Walsum
  • Act 1

    1h5 min.

  • Intermission

    20 min.

  • Act 2

    45 min.

Duration: ca. 2h10 min.

  • About the production

    This co-production of the Polish National Ballet and Dutch National Ballet was originally devised by Krzysztof Pastor in the year of the Bard’s 450th birthday. Two years later, acing on his desire to reinterpret the work, the choreographer used the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death as an opportunity to put on a new adaptation of The Tempest, this time round at the Polish National Opera and with the dancers of the Polish National Ballet. The revised production gives full justice to his original vision. Pastor achieved the feat by introducing an additional character to the show: the word.

    Regardless of the passage of time, Shakespeare’s The Tempest remains a relevant play that requires engagement from the audience. A challenging work to interpret, it provokes many to change their worldview. By laying bare the mechanisms that divide people into better and worse ones based on colonial politics – with which the playwright was well familiar – it provides commentary on the issues encountered by Europe today in the face of the worsening immigration crisis.   

    Exploring the social contexts is a characteristic feature of Pastor’s work. This time, he enlisted the help of Dutch dramaturge Willem Bruls and a duo of internationally renowned Iranian visual artists, Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari.

    The creative team, which also included French-born stage and lighting designer Jean Kalman and British costume designer Tatyana van Walsum, drew on their diverse backgrounds to produce a singular show that brings together very different perspectives on the well-known masterpiece. Despite their sundry viewpoints, the end-product is a fantastically coherent ballet. One might even say that the creation process somewhat reflected the occurrences on stage.  

    The two-act work is set on a scarcely populated island which becomes the new home of Prospero, the rightful yet dethroned duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda. The unfolding events trigger a clash of passions that have been tormenting the human kind since the beginning of history: good and evil, wisdom and ignorance, rational thinking and natural instincts, love and violence, desire for revenge and forgiveness. Regardless of how different the characters are, the titular tempest will prove them all equal, no matter their class or place of birth. The accompanying score is a soul-searching compilation of music by Henry Purcell, Thomas Tallis, Robert Johnson, Matthew Locke, contemporary Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, and Iranian traditional music.

    This beautiful and perhaps the most magical production by our choreographer to date does not have a straightforward ending, which makes it an intellectual challenge. The staging moves with its minimalist use of signs and symbols. A tree visible on the stage – connecting the earthy with the metaphysical – changes position from vertical to horizontal in the course of the performance to finally disappear from the audience’s view, vanish into the void, just like the play’s protagonist and everything that surrounded him. A show to remember, no doubt.

  • Performances
  • Credits
    Krzysztof Pastor
    Marta Kluczyńska
    Video Projections
    Shoja Azari
    Video Projections
    Shirin Neshat
    Set and Lighting Designer
    Jean Kalman
    Costume Designer
    Tatyana van Walsum
    Willem Bruls
    Choreographer’s Assistant
    Sandrine Leroy
    Choreographer’s Assistant
    Judy Maelor Thomas
    Musical Consultant
    Jan Pieter Koch