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Make a Scene: The Tempest in South Asia

Meet Mel Lewis, the creator behind our South Asian inspired Tempest

This summer, we're inviting our visitors to help us set the stage for five special performances, each inspired by a different culture from around the world. Read on to find out more about Mel Lewis and the Sonia Sabri Company, who are designing a new setting of The Tempest with a South-Asian twist.

Mel Lewis

Mel Lewis works as projects manager for Sonia Sabri Company and also as co-founder of a community arts company, Visual Attic, where she has delivered and managed many projects using large scale puppets, physical theatre, mask-work, dance and a variety of other collaborative art forms.

The design for Mel’s performance space draws heavily on her experience working with Sonia Sabri Company; one of the leading contemporary South Asian dance & music companies in the UK. The organisation has an international reputation for presenting Kathak dance in a contemporary context, without diluting its integrity. 

In order to create a unique space for Shakespeare’s play The Tempest, Mel focused in on stormy seas and mystical island shores. The design features a driftwood installation, sea colours and rangoli-patterned pebbles. Rangoli is used in India and neighbouring countries to welcome visitors and to bring good luck, as well as creating a sense of beauty.

Gold coins adorn the trees, symbolic of the deep history of opulence of the Mughal Courts in India dating back hundreds of years, around the time of the life of Shakespeare. The coins also represent the robbing of Prospero’s wealth in The Tempest

One of Shakespeare’s oldest plays (written in 1610-11, at a time when Shakespeare is thought to have been resident in Stratford-upon-Avon) The Tempest tells the story of a shipwrecked sorcerer, Prospero, through themes of master/servant relationships, misuse of power and a plot in which characters compete for control of the enchanted island.

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