Theatre is often thought of as a visual medium, however what is heard during a performance goes a long way to creating a play's atmosphere and mood. The script of The Tempest contains many songs which are performed mainly by the nymphs during the play.
Music can be a strong tool in understanding a piece of theatre and can help explore the themes and characters. As an activity to develop a deeper understanding of The Tempest and approach the play from a different angle we encourage you to create a list of music, or playlist, which exemplifies your interpretation of the play.
How to create a playlist
Try to think of this activity as creating a soundtrack to your version of The Tempest. Be clear and creative in what this play means to you and how you interpret the story. Every person will experience The Tempest in a different way.
Think of the themes of the play; there are the obvious ones of revenge, isolation and romance but be sure to go beyond that to create a well rounded playlist. Some other examples that could be explored are father/daughter relationships, the supernatural and magic, control, power and despair.
If there are songs that speak of symbols throughout the play, these will be great to use. Also, try to imagine what mood or atmosphere your particular version of The Tempest would have.
Do any songs represent a particular character to you? You could create a playlist specifically focussed on Miranda or about the spirit creatures of the island.
There are no rules for which songs relate to The Tempest, they can be as abstract or as literal as you want, as long as they complement your understanding of the play.
After you have created your playlists, they can be used to enhance your understanding of the play. Activities such as workshopping scenes and incorporating their specifically chosen song may aid you in creating a deeper, more layered performance. If media equipment can be accessed, work on making a The Tempest themed music video one of your chosen songs, or work as a class to make a silent movie based upon the play and using your playlist as the accompanying music.
Here are some example playlists created by members of the creative team and cast of The Tempest.
Zamfir The Lonely Shepherd
Radiohead House of Cards
Vivaldi Four Seasons: Summer (Presto III)
Little Birdy Better off Alone
Bright Eyes Make a Plan to Love me
Death Cab for Cutie I Will Possess Your Heart
Aqualung Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell On You)
Weezer Island In The Sun
Depeche Mode Blue Dress
Placebo Where is my Mind?
Tim Buckley Song to the Siren
Led Zeppelin Dazed and Confused