The last episode of "Shakespeare Uncovered" brings us Sir Trevor Nunn examining the most fantastical Shakepeare play: "The Tempest." Mostly known as a director of musicals and theater productions, Nunn has ventured into film.
Nunn directed the 1986 "Lady Jane" and the 1975 adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" with Glenda Jackson and Patrick Stewart, "Hedda" and the 1996 "The Twelfth Night" and Imogen Stubbs and Helena Bonham Carter and Toby Stephens.
But Nunn better known for his connection with the Royal Shakespeare Company. First joining in 1964, Nunn became artistic director in 1968, a title he held until 1986. In 1997, he became the artistic director for the Royal National Theatre.
His influence isn't only felt on the other side of the Atlantic. Besides winning a Laurence Olivier Award for Achievement and Olivier Awards for Best Director (1995 for "The Merchant of Venice" and 1980 for "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby"), Nunn has won several Tony Awards (1987 for "Les Miserables," 1983 for "Cats," and 1982 "The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby")
Nunn recently directed "The Tempest" with Ralph Fiennes but there was nothing filmed for the masses who didn't make the trip to London. Nunn notes things modern day audiences, particularly those used to martial arts movies and their influence on modern day fight scenes in science fiction and elsewhere, might not notice. Shakespeare was pushing the limits of theater because "The Tempest" demands many visual effects that weren't readily available. You need a shipwreck, a grand, fierce storm and people must disappear and fly through the air. This was well before the musical "Peter Pan" and the high flying ballet of "The Lion King" or the more recent trials of "Spider-Man."
Nunn doesn't take the topic too seriously--venturing into the B-movie vaults with clips from "Forbidden Planet," he considers the father-daughter relationship and the power of the mind--a father's mind when his daughter falls in love. Of course, there's also the revenge side plot to deal with as well. An interesting twist is the casting of a woman in the role of Prospero (Helen Mirren in 2010).
"The Tempest" is Shakepeare's experimental play and is easily adaptable to science fiction. The program looks into actual incidents that inspired the play. In the end, you can better appreciate the work of the director watching this program and "The Tempest" in its look at a father-daughter relationship serves as a good contrast to "Hamlet"--a play about fathers and sons.
"Shakespeare Uncovered: The Tempest with Trevor Nunn" is on PBS tonight, 8 February 2013, at 10 p.m. Check local listings.