In a piece of remarkable nontraditional casting, actress Blair Brown will play the sorcerer Prospero in the McCarter Theatre's upcoming mounting of Shakespeare's The Tempest.
Emily Mann, McCarter's artistic director, will pilot the show, which runs Feb. 11-March 2, 2003.
Brown won a Tony Award for her work in Copenhagen in 2000 and recently starred in the Kennedy Center production of A Little Night Music. Other Broadway work includes Arcadia, James Joyce's The Dead and Cabaret.
Though other traditionally male-dominated Shakespearean roles—most notably, Hamlet—have occasionally been taken up by women, Prospero, the wrongly depose Duke of Milan who uses his magical powers to rule over an island, has almost always been played by a man. Recent New York Prosperos include Patrick Stewart, on Broadway, and Frank Langella, at the Roundabout Theatre Company Off-Broadway.
The casting of Brown means that Prospero now goes by the name Prospera; Miranda, Prospera's daughter, will have a mother for once; the former Duke was actually once the Duchess of Milan; and that the spirit Ariel will have to address its boss as not "Master," but "Mistress." (The Shakespeare script famously does not assign a gender to the character of Ariel.) Brown previously appeared at McCarter in Athol Fugard's Sorrows and Rejoicings.
McCarter Theatre is located at 91 University Place in Princeton, New Jersey. For tickets or information, call (609) 258-2787 or visit www.mccarter.org.
—By Robert Simonson