BWW Exclusive: An Interview with Mamie Zwettler About the Upcoming Nationwide film Release of Stratford Festival's THE TEMPEST
Did you not get a chance to see the Stratford Festival's magical production of THE TEMPEST last season? Or maybe you did see it and are eager to get a taste of that magic again! You are in luck because the production was filmed and will be available for all to see through the Stratford Festival's Stage to Screen Series!
With it's theatrical release set for Saturday, BroadwayWorld chatted with the production's Miranda, Mamie Zwettler about the experience of journeying to the magical island over and over again last season.
Mamie kindly took time of her busy rehearsal schedule for the 2019 season to reminisce about the "extraordinary" experience she had last year.
BWW: Have you been part of a stage production that was filmed like this before or is it a new experience?
MZ: No! It was an entirely new experience. Pretty much everything about this production was a new experience for me!
BWW: On the day of filming, did it feel different from the other times you did the show? Were you aware there were cameras in the audience?
MZ: I would say they all had a very special energy every time we did that play and of course there was a new element added on the day of the filming. Martha and I walked out on stage and had a chance to see where the cameras were before they opened the house and so there was an adjustment to our schedule to make sure things would start on time...I did not wear a mic with the exception of the day that we filmed, so there were certainly elements that were different that added a new kind of twist to the day but I think all of us tried to do our best to treat it like every play. Every time that we 'went on the island' it was a really special journey. On that day we had something like...800 students out there. It could have been more. It was amazing. So there were many things going on that I think contributed to what I think was one of our really most special trips.
BWW: So this was your Stratford debut and it was opposite Martha (Henry) who made her Stratford debut in the same role. How was that experience for you?
MZ: It was extraordinary. I think this play has some beautiful elements of circle of life and the cyclical nature of the story itself. So for us to be able to share that connection-we talked a few times, but was really something that was special I think. She could share with me stories of her first time out on stage or her first preview. It really helped alleviate a lot of the fear that I had about the experience itself. She was really extraordinary. She kind of held my hand the whole time.
BWW: It is much talked about that this production not only had a woman playing Prospero, but that Prospero is played as a woman. What struck me most about that choice is that it allowed viewers to see a dynamic between a mother and daughter that had not been offered in this play before. I would love to hear your perspective on that.
MZ: I'm so glad that you felt that way. I think the dynamic between mother and daughter in this story certainly brought to life a relationship between Martha and I that I thought was really moving. The nature of this story is someone who is perhaps not the best leader or parent in the world but is wrongfully ousted from their place of power and demonized for seeking more knowledge and for growing and searching for something meaningful...to go through such a trauma together as a parent and child and then for that parent being a mother having to pass on that inherited trauma onto her daughter, I think is something that's really extraordinary and something that every mother and daughter have experienced...By the end of the play, Miranda has learned how to forgive and how to take the next step forward because she has watched her mother do so. And I just think that is...really really powerful and quite touching for everybody.
BWW: With that in mind...With this theatrical release and an eventual release on DVD, this particular production will end up being the entry point to THE TEMPEST for many viewers, young and old. As an actor who was in it, how does that feel, and, in terms of this being a production where Prospero is a woman, how do you feel about that being the entry point for so many people.
MZ: I find it a little intimidating (laughs), but that's just selfishly. I think it's extraordinary, especially because Martha is so extraordinary. For her to be able to tell this story and for this version of this story to be the one that so many folks will interact with-It's a testament to her career but also a testament to what this play can be. It's one fraught with feeling inadequate and feeling unprepared but going for it anyway. It's something I'm very proud of in this production. I was very proud to be there with Martha.
BWW: Lastly, something that certainly did not overshadow the production, but it will certainly forever be a footnote...is the opening night that never was.
MZ: Mmm The opening night that wasn't, as we call it...
BWW: I was at the rescheduled opening and there was a magical feeling to it. It almost seemed to mirror the play in that people initially had a lot of anger about what happened, but that all kind of fell away and turned into excitement and love for the theatre. This is a revenge play but then Prospero chooses mercy and hope for a new world. It seemed fitting. Did that influence the rest of the run? Did you feel the magic that we felt too?
MZ: I feel like there was an incredible electrical undercurrent that was added to the world that we had built. That's what I remembered so intensely is that everything felt electrified. I think you're right to call out the mirroring of the play itself. We had crafted something ambitiously so, something that not everybody might have approved, putting a woman in that position of authority, and in the play she was ousted and in real life, we were unexpectedly told 'No this won't happen. This can't be.' And I agree, there was quite a bit of anger and then, like the play, suddenly that didn't matter [the play] became more important and then every time we got to tell that story, there was never a second that it didn't feel precious and exciting and a gift to be able to do what we were doing. I never could have imagined I could feel more grateful until we couldn't do it and then everything magnified. It became bigger than what was going on. It really was pretty exceptional and extraordinary.
BWW: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. Is there anything else you would like to add?
MZ: I'm so immensely grateful. I think what matters is that Shakespeare wrote this play and the chance to see Martha bring it to life and have this enormously talented and brilliant company surrounding her-to be a part of that is something I will never forget, something I'm always going to cherish. I was just so lucky to be able to learn so much from that experience. It's kind of astounding it kind of feels like it's happening all over again. I got to see it the other night and it was really really moving!
Details: THE TEMPEST, Directed on stage by Antoni Cimolino and starring Martha Henry as Prospero is being released nationwide in Cineplex cinemas on Saturday, April 13th as part of Stratford Festival's Stage to Screen series.
Photo Credit: TARO PR