The Tempest was one of William Shakespeare’s last plays. Into it, he put his heart and his soul. The epilogue in itself carries enough emotional weight to fill an entire play. The scene where Ariel says that she would feel bad for the men trapped on the island if she were human (V. i. 20), if performed right, can be one of the most moving lines in the history of theater. The emotions in the play make the play extremely hard to perform. It is one of the most difficult stage plays for the audience as well as the cast to interpret, but isn’t impossible with a good director, cast, and crew.
If a play is not staged well, the audience may have a hard time understanding it. In The Tempest there are many scenes that are extremely difficult to stage. For example, in Act III Scene 3, there is the stage direction, “Enter several strange Shapes, bringing in a banquet; and dance about it with gentle actions of salutations.” (Shakespeare, 57) Then, after the men decide to eat, “Enter Ariel, like a harpy; claps his wings upon the table; and with a quaint device the banquet vanishes.” (Shakespeare, 58) How does one bring an entire banquet onto the stage and then in the blink of an eye, make it disappear? It is one of the greatest obstacles in known theater. The appearance of Caliban is something to be argued over. In some performances, he has been portrayed as a fish, in others a dog, in some a hunchback, but his appearance is an important part of the play. It is imperative that the audience hate him, be disgusted by him, for the emotions to work right. He has to be depicted as abhorrent and lewd. This is another dilemma for the director, and the actor who plays Caliban has to be notably gifted. The spirit, Ariel, is of undefined gender, and this is also quite a difficult thing to portray on the stage, as one must choose, to a degree, the sex of the spirit. Also, the language, late sixteenth century English, is rather hard for the modern ear to understand without scrupulous study. Many words strange to those of the twentieth century were common, ever day words in Shakespeare’s time. The line, “You have often/Begun to tell me what I am, but stopped/And left me to a bootless inquisition/Concluding, ‘Stay! Not yet.