Bringing the World of William Shakespeare to the Young People of the World since 1996



Synopsis of S4K's The Tempest, including (Song Titles).

A boat sailing home from Tunis to Naples is struck by a violent sea-storm somewhere in the Mediterranean. All on board fear for their lives as the tempest rages around them (INTO THE STORM).

Prospero and his young daughter Miranda look on from the safety of a nearby island. Miranda, fearing that the storm has been created by her father's magical powers, is upset. Prospero reassures her that all on board are safe, and goes on to tell the story of how they arrived on the island some 12 years before. He tells her that he used to be the Duke of Milan (THE DUKE OF MILAN) and was driven from power by his wicked brother Antonio, who had conspired with Alonso the King of Naples to usurp him. Now, as luck would have it, all those who had conspired against Prospero are on board the struggling boat, and soon they would all end up on the sea shore, where Prospero has plans for them all.

While Miranda sleeps, we meet Ariel - a spirit of the air, and a loyal if begrudging servant to Prospero, who agrees to free Ariel from his service once his final plans are complete. Ariel confirms that she has carried out his plans as ordered, that all on board are safe, and are now scattered in three groups about the island.

The only other inhabitant of the island is Caliban, the surviving son of a "foul witch" Sycorax, who believes that the island should belong to him and resents being treated as a slave by Prospero.

Ariel leads Ferdinand, the sole member of the first group, to Prospero's cave (COME UNTO THESE YELLOW SANDS). Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples, is the handsome young son of Alonso. His fears, that he is the only survivor of the shipwreck, are confirmed when he hears another song (FULL FATHOMS FIVE) which appears to tell of the death of his father the King. When Ferdinand meets Miranda, the couple fall instantly in love at first sight. Prospero is secretly delighted but fears that this love too easily won it may prove not to last. He pretends to be gruff and critical towards Ferdinand and sets a series of menial tasks to test the young prince's resolve.

In another part of the island the second group of survivors appear, including King Alonso, Sebastian (his brother), Antonio (Prospero's brother - and the current Duke of Milan) and Gonzalo (Alonso's counsellor). Alonso is consumed with grief fearing that his son Ferdinand is dead. Gonzalo does his best to keep the mood of the surviving party cheerful. He offers his vision of the perfect world (UTOPIA), which is mercilessly lampooned by Sebastian and Antonio. Ariel arrives and sends all but the two "evil brothers" to sleep. Antonio convinces Sebastian that they should kill Alonso and Gonzalo, thus allowing Sebastian to become King of Naples, and forming a powerful, political partnership (NAPLES AND MILAN). But Ariel awakes Gonzalo just in time to prevent the murders.

Elsewhere, Caliban is gathering wood as another storm brews up. Trinculo, Alonso's jester looks for shelter and has to make do with the gabardine cloak of what appears to be a giant dead fish, but is in fact Caliban "playing dead". Stephano, Alonso's butler also arrives. He has survived by floating to shore on a barrel of wine, and with a new found bottle is proceeding to drink his way through it (A NAUTICAL SHANTY). Caliban assumes that Stephano is a god, and after several swigs of wine, vows to serve him (YOU CAN DEPEND ON ME).

Miranda sees Ferdinand carrying logs for her father (LOOK AT ME). They exchange love vows for each other and promise to be married, as Prospero secretly looks on with approval.

Caliban persuades Stephano and Trinculo to kill Prospero and seize control of the island (YOU CAN DEPEND ON ME - reprise).

Alonso and the others are searching for food. Ariel torments them by making a banquet appear and then disappear again. She appears as a harpy and reminds them all of their crime against Prospero and Miranda, saying that the shipwreck, and the loss of Ferdinand is a punishment.

Meanwhile, Prospero prepares a theatrical Masque for the young couple (THE MASQUE). Ariel and her spirits play the parts of Iris - the Goddess of the Rainbow, Ceres - the Goddess of Agriculture, and Juno the Roman Queen of Gods, in a story about love, chastity and faithfulness. These "revels" are ended suddenly when Prospero is reminded about Caliban's plot against his life.

Prospero's master plan nears its climax, and he vows that upon its completion he will abandon his magic arts (NO MORE). While Caliban and the now very drunk Stephano and Trinculo show up to kill Prospero, they are distracted by the appearance of some "beautifully extravagant" garments. Ariel and her spirits, in the guise of hunting dogs, chase them away.

The royal party are brought before Prospero's cell and he appears before them for the first time in twelve years. He forgives Alonso, Sebastian - and even his brother Antonio. With his dukedom restored, and to Alonso's delight and amazement, Prospero reveals Ferdinand and Miranda playing chess.

Prospero's master plan is complete: his dukedom is restored, wrong has been righted, characters have been reformed, and the marriage of Ferdinand and Miranda will unite Milan and Naples forever. Everyone is reunited (REUNITED).

A bedraggled Trinculo and Stephano apologise for trying to kill Prospero, and Caliban promises to mend his ways. Prospero's final act is to free his loyal servant Ariel free.

Connect with us on social media

Twitter logo  Follow us on TWITTER @S4Kidz

Facebook logo  Like our Facebook page /shakespeare4kidz

Don't miss the latest news from S4K

Sign up to our newsletter for news updates and exclusive offers from S4K...