Ron Daniels production 1982
Derek Jacobi presented a vital and thrilling Prospero, who was only just on the brink of middle age. He was caught in an anguished internal struggle with his emotions, motives and desires. He was not fully in control of himself, let alone the action of the play. His magic garment was that of a Renaissance magus, decorated with occult signs, and his finely-fashioned magic staff was topped with a pointing hand.
The betrothal masque took place beneath a beautiful crown-like canopy of golden leaves. The set itself was that of the ruined ship on which Prospero and his daughter had arrived on the island 12 years before. This set, with appropriate lighting, doubled for the storm-tossed ship in the play's opening scene.
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Academic interview with Derek Jacobi about The Tempest and playing Prospero:
Theatre reviewing: Performance versus criticism
Kate Wilkinson, Style journal, 2010
Written by Rebecca Brown © RSC
Photo shows Derek Jacobi as Prospero in the RSC's 1982 production of The Tempest.
Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust