Shakespeare’s plays express an affinity for expressive dress. In “The Taming of the Shrew,” the caddish Petruchio withholds food, sleep and beautiful attire from his new bride as punishment for her forwardness, hoping to change her ways. In “Twelfth Night” and “The Merchant of Venice,” women disguise themselves as men in order to achieve their goals.
If outfits are favorite motifs of the Bard, what should we make of a clothes-free production of one of his best-known plays, “The Tempest”? According to co-director Alice Mottola, who headed up such a production performed this week at Summit Rock in New York City’s Central Park, nudity graces the play with themes of free expression and equality across cultures. This interpretation makes sense; the play, for those unfamiliar, is about an aristocratic crew caught in a storm that brings them to an island rich with magic and isolated inhabitants.
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