Alexander Morfov >> works >> theatre productions >> The Tempest | Komissarzhevskaya Theatre 

The Tempest 

V. F. Komissarzhevskoy Theatre

St. Petersburg, Russia

premiere 15 November 1998, Main stage





Set designer & 



Light designer 

Costume atelier



William Shakespeare

Michail Donsky

Alexander Morfov


Emil Kapelyush 

Sergey Gritsay 

Arkadiy Gorelik 

Stefanie Graurogkeit 

160 min., with intermission  

Anatoliy Hudoleev/ Evgeniy Ganelin, Evgeniy Ivanov, Vladimir Bogdanov/ Alexandr Vontov, Alexandr Bolshakov, Vladimir Krylov, Alexandr Makin, Anatoliy Gorin, Evgenia Igumnova, Rodion Prihodko, Alexandr Anisimov 

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The mysterious world found on an island amidst the ocean tenaciously captures the characters in its honey-woven nets. It is inhabited

by spirits who enjoy a feast of making fun of people. The characters completely lose control and dance in a circle around them,

like a storm, like a tempest. This magical fairy tale foretold by Shakespeare finds new life in Alexander Morfov's staging.

буря комиссаржевской капелюш

     "The Tempest" is considered the last of Shakespeare's plays and is often classified as a romance in which the author comments on family relations and reconciliation with mythical circumstances. 

    The Duke of Milan, Prospero, and his daughter, Miranda, are exiled to an island after Prospero's brother, Antonio, seizes power. Years later Prospero, who possesses a certain spiritual power, comes to know that his brother is on a ship near the island with a group of friends and supporters, returning from his daughter's wedding. He starts a seastorm during which Antonio's crew falls into separate groups, each assuming for the others to have died in the storm. A series of plots - for gaining power or defeating a rival, ultimately for the same reason, leads Prospero to a winning position - outgrowing his spiritual aims, еnsuring a loving husband for his daughter, letting his island servants (Caliban and Ariel) free and forgiving his brother. 

    A comedy of illusion, a romance - a text about power and revenge, this play is beyond any interpretation. It reaches beyond the laws, known to men, it presents a fairytale about controlling nature and allying with nature, mastering the spirits and bringing love and forgiveness. Morfov's immersive staging is full of lively rhythm, humour, emotions, and music that echoes in your mind long after leaving the theatre hall. 

    A true lesson on the power of art and imagination. 

morfov морфов

~ I wanted to stage a production of "The Tempest" with new ideas that celebrate the Shakespearean philosophical parables. Sooner or later a moment comes when each of us needs to contemplate - in the deepest philosophical sense - on one's life and what is happening in the world after the big changes. When all idols are overthrown and destroyed. This is namely the time when you have to look into yourself - your past, your present and, if possible, to imagine your future. The character in the play Prospero finds himself at such a turning point. He ponders over the same questions - Who am I? Where am I going? Do I have to do this? And, at the end of it, is this world's objectively existing at all? I think that our only possible salvation is found in subjectivity and contemplation. Because state politics is not giving us a chance, not any hope of salvation. ~            November 1998

     "The Tempest is a specimen of the purely romantic drama, in which the interest is not historical, or depen-dent upon fidelity of portraiture, or the natural connexion of events,—but is a birth of the imagination, and rests only on the coaptation and union of the elements granted to, or assumed by, the poet. It is a species of drama which owes no allegiance to time or space, and in which, therefore, errors of chronology and geography—no mortal sins in any species—are venial faults, and count for nothing. It addresses itself entirely to the imaginative faculty; and although the illusion may be assisted by the effect on the senses of the complicated scenery and decorations of modem times, yet this sort of assistance is dangerous. For the principal and only genuine excitement ought to come from within,—from the moved and sympathetic imagination; whereas, where so much is addressed to the mere external senses of seeing and

hearing, the spiritual vision is apt to languish, and the attraction from without will withdraw the mind from the proper and only legitimate interest which is intended to spring from within. [...]      In this play are admirably sketched the vices generally accompanying a low degree of civilization; and in the first scene of the second act Shakspeare has, as in many other places, shown the tendency in bad men to indulge in scorn and contemptuous expressions, as a mode of getting rid of their own uneasy feelings of inferiority to the good, and also, by making the good ridiculous, of rendering the transition of others to wickedness easy. Shakspeare never puts habitual scorn into the mouths of other than bad men [...] 

     In this play (...) are also shown the springs of the vulgar in politics,—of that kind of politics which is inwoven with human nature. In his treatment of this subject, wherever it occurs, Shakspeare is quite peculiar [and] never promulgates any party tenets. He is always the philosopher and the moralist, but at the same time with a profound veneration for all the established institutions of society, and for those classes which form the permanent elements of the state— especially never introducing a professional character, as such, otherwise than as respectable. If he must have any name, he should be styled a philosophical aristocrat, delight-ing in those hereditary institutions which have a tendency to bind one age to another, and in that distinction of ranks, of which, although few may be in possession, all enjoy the advantages. Hence, again, you will observe the good nature with which he seems always to make sport with the passions and follies of a mob, as with an irrational animal. He is never angry with it, but hugely content with holding up its absurdities to its face; and sometimes you may trace a tone of almost affectionate superiority, something like that in which a father speaks of the rogueries of a child. The truth is, Shak-speare's characters are all genera intensely individualized; the results of meditation, of which observation supplied the drapery and the colours necessary to combine them with each other. He had virtually surveyed all the great

component powers and impulses of human nature,—had seen that their different combinations and subordinations were in fact the individualizers of men, and showed how their harmony was produced by reciprocal disproportions of excess or deficiency. The language in which these truths are expressed was not drawn from any set fashion, but from the profoundest depths of his moral being, and is therefore for all ages." 

excerpts from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's, "The Tempest Essay"

original spelling kept 



"The Tempest" is nominated for the Golden Mask theatre award (2000) in the category for Set Design - Emil Kapelyush 




"The combination between an excellent theatrical poetry and the delicious boldness of the stage gag is truly capable of raising a storm of positive emotions."

Smena, 21.11.1998, St. Petersburg 


"The director has managed to stage a production that is more than just a modern one. It is curious regardless one's personal interest in classical British dramaturgy."

Delovoy Peterburg, 04.12.1998 


"The Tempest" is a remarkably and surprisingly joyful production. The ironic point of view is clear to everyone. What we have is a bully show in the best possible artistic sense."

Reklama-Chance, 04.01.1999, St. Petersburg 


"In Alexander Morfov's production, where humor and fanstasy role play is ample, the director employs diverse theatrical styles and skills. You will see elements from the Japanese kabuki theatre, Beijing opera and commedia dell'arte. The exalted festival audience interrupted the performance more than once shouting Bravo! and the show ended with a standing ovation for the actors from Petersburg."

Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth newspaper, 09.09.1999, Poland 


"In Morfov's production on the stage of the Komissarzhevskoy theatre in St. Petersburg one can find in a tight intertwinement dream and reality, imagination and madness, harmony and storm... Everything is governed by the laws of fantasy and music is in consistence with this ambience. The enchating fairy tale dream continues until the very end of the show. This is another version of the text brimming with associations and allusions, another attempt to find the answer, to puzzle out the Shakespearean riddle entitled "The Tempest" - and withal an interesting, colourful and overwhelming one."

Screen and stage, 01.12.1999, Moscow 


"Just how implicitly and recklessly the audience accepted to follow the rules imposed by the show! Just how voluntarily they surrendered themselves to the production, lived with it and saw themselves in it, sometimes laughing and sometimes retreating to silence. They knew, they understood those characters - somewhat funny, somewhat scary with their primitivism. Morfov staged a production of grandeur. A bright one. A new one. Which, for that matter, is still in harmony with Shakespeare's "The Tempest"." 

Teatralnaya zhyzn magazine, issue 3, 1999, Moscow