Actors learn their chops on a tipsy Tempest

What would you do if you were shipwrecked on a deserted island? For Stephano the butler, who floats to shore on a barrel of wine, the decision is…

What would you do if you were shipwrecked on a deserted island?

For Stephano the butler, who floats to shore on a barrel of wine, the decision is somewhat obvious.

He gets drunk.

Stephano’s drunken antics, along with those of his friends a jester and a monster, form the comic relief for Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

Moving Parts Theatre’s version of The Tempest opens tonight at the Wood Street Centre.

“This is the biggest production Moving Parts has done yet,” said director Anton Solomon before Monday night’s dress rehearsal.

Solomon was cuing sound clips, helping to set up lighting and dealing with actors who didn’t have their costumes ready.

This just two days before opening night.

Prior to moving to a less a chaotic corner of the theatre to discuss the play, Solomon asked one of his crew to reinforce a section of the multi-leveled set.

“It took about a week for four people to build the set, but we’re still perfecting it,” he said.

“You can fiddle with an idea forever, but when you have a production deadline you have to make choices.”

The theatre group has been hard at work since the first week of January.

But for Solomon, work on the play began last summer — prepping, designing, writing music, and planning casting and production details.

“(The Tempest) has been put on for 400 years now, so I’m probably not doing anything new,” said Solomon.

“But we are using masks for the play.”

The masks are a quick and easy way to differentiate between the human characters and the spirits.

“And it’s also good training for the actors,” said Solomon.

“That’s why moving parts was formed: to train actors.”

Solomon, who studied theatre at the University of Saskatchewan, began Moving Parts Theatre in 2001.

The company started with a few dedicated members, putting on two to three smaller productions each year.

It has since grown to 25 members.

The group meets once a week to play around and work on acting skills, such as sword fighting.

When they needed masks, the group put on a mask-making workshop and learned to do it themselves.

The troupe has never shied away from putting on difficult plays and has dabbled in Shakespeare before.

“Shakespeare is great for actors,” said Solomon.

“You can’t do Shakespeare and not become a better actor.”

The Tempest is the Bard’s last-known play and is considered to be his most mature in terms of its language and subject matter.

The intricate story deals with magic and the costs of using it, as well as the usurping of Prospero, the Duke of Milan.

And there is a love story, of course.

But that doesn’t mean the play is completely serious.

“For me the play is really fun,” said Sophia Marnik who plays Trinculo the jester.

Trinculo is an example of Shakespeare’s rude mechanicals — the humorous low lives that bring comic relief to his plays.

“We get to just get drunk,” said Marnik with a laugh.

“Our characters get progressively more inebriated as the show goes on and deal with the highs and lows that go along with it.”

The Tempest’s characters range from very calm to totally over the top.

“It is a very physical play,” said Solomon.

“It’s not called Moving Parts Theatre for nothing.”

The Tempest runs from February 20 to 23 and February 26 to March 1.

Tickets are $15 and are available at Well-Read Books.

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