Photograph of Rudolph Walker as Caliban in Jonathan Miller's 1988 production of The Tempest

Description

Jonathan Miller’s ground-breaking production of The Tempest was one of the first to highlight the political and colonial implications of the play. It was initially shown at London’s Mermaid Theatre in 1970 and then re-worked and re-designed for The Old Vic in 1988.

In this 1988 photograph, Max von Sydow plays Prospero as a white colonist, while Rudolph Walker plays Caliban as a black slave reluctantly obeying Prospero’s commands. Ariel, also played by a black actor, was portrayed as a servant of the empire, impatiently awaiting political independence.

In her review of the 1970 production, Hilary Spurling said ‘[i]t will be hard … ever again to see The Tempest as a fairytale’.[1]

[1] See Gordon McMullan’s chapter, ‘“Into something rich and strange”: The Tempest at the Blackfriars Playhouse, c. 1610–11’ in Shakespeare in Ten Acts (London: The British Library, 2016), pp. 57–58.

Full title:
Photograph of Rudolph Walker as Caliban in Jonathan Miller's 1988 production of The Tempest
Created:
1988
Format:
Photograph / Image
Creator:
Zuleika Henry
Usage terms

© Photo by Zuleika Henry

Shelfmark:
15._Zuleika Henry_The Tempest, The Old Vic dir. Jonathan Miller 1988 Rudolph Walker as Caliban and Max von Sydow as Prospero

Related articles

Character analysis: Ariel and Prospero in The Tempest

Article by:
John Gordon
Theme:
Magic, illusion and the supernatural

Focussing on Act 1, Scene 2 of The Tempest, John Gordon analyses the characters of Ariel and Prospero through the frame of magic and power.

The Tempest and the literature of wonder

Article by:
Martin Butler
Themes:
Comedies, Ethnicity and identity, Power, politics and religion, Global Shakespeare

Martin Butler shows how Renaissance travel, trade and colonisation shaped the portrayal of Caliban and the Italians in The Tempest.

Character analysis: Miranda in The Tempest

Article by:
Lilla Grindlay
Theme:
Gender, sexuality, courtship and marriage

Lilla Grindlay explores the character of Miranda in Act 3, Scene 1 of The Tempest, considering language, form and a feminist interpretation.

Related collection items

Related works

The Tempest

Created by: William Shakespeare

Before the action of The Tempest begins, Antonio usurps his brother Prospero as Duke of Milan, with the help of ...