As well as looking at how we’ve staged The Tempest, which you can do in the Investigate section, it’s important to think about what you would do if you were staging the play. And, if you can, to perform parts of it yourself.

We encourage you to look at the play, or scenes in the play, and think through the decisions a director makes with their actors:

  • Where is the play set?
  • How are the characters connected?
  • What do the characters want?

Here you can find some key things to think about before staging the play yourself. Even if you’re working towards an exam or preparing for an assignment, it’s important to think about different ways of reading lines or words and taking a look at the key decisions a director needs to make could really help your essay responses.

  • Key decisions to make

    There are certain things that every director and creative team have to consider when staging The Tempest. The following key things will be discussed in every production, but the decisions that are made can create very different interpretations of the play.

    The Spirits of the Island

    • How does the way Ariel looks, speaks, and moves reflect his spirit-like qualities?
    • Can the audience only hear the other spirits, as the characters do, or can they also see them as they can see Ariel?
    • What do the spirits sound like? If we can see them, what do they look like?
    • What mood do the spirits create for a modern audience more sceptical of magic?
    • How will you stage the Masque in Act 4 Scene 1 to connect with the portrayal of the spirits in the production as a whole?


    • How do differences in status between the nobles affect how they look and behave?
    • How will the audience recognise the differences in status between the nobles and the servants and crew of the ship?
    • What is the power dynamic between Prospero and Ariel, and Prospero and Caliban? What are the tensions in these relationships and which are the key moments in showing those tensions?

    Family Relationships

    • How close are Prospero and Miranda as a father and daughter? Are they open and affectionate or is there a formality in their relationship?
    • How close are Alonso and Ferdinand as a father and son? Are they open and affectionate or is there a formality in their relationship?
    • To what extent are Ariel and Caliban part of Prospero’s family or are they very much outsiders?
    • How will each of the nobles be affected by the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand and how do they each respond to the news?
    • What mood is created by the family reconciliations at the end of the play?

    Within each of these choices, there are lots of key moments and scenes to explore.

    Going back through the Investigate section and looking at the different performances we’ve had at the RSC, think about these three areas:

    • Can you see how each director has presented the magical spirits of the island? Why do you think they have made those choices?
    • How is the hierarchy and status of characters shown?
    • How are the family relationships shown?

    To explore a particular production in even more detail, looking at the specific choices and thinking behind them, take a look at the Casebooks for the 2012 and 2016 productions of The Tempest.

Teacher Notes

This page looks at some of the key decisions a director makes.

Challenge your students to think about how they would want to tell the story of The Tempest. How would they respond to the questions here?