“Sycorax,” is a prequel to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” that unravels the tale of the untold life of the previously unseen and misunderstood character from “The Tempest,” Sycorax.
This play, written by Susan Gayle Todd, tackles the ideology of feminism, religion, sexuality and power all through the lens of Sycorax in the country of Algeria.
“I think it is an important story to tell because of the women’s part and allowing women to tell their stories instead of men, but also because it helps us understand about a country that is potentially not well-known, especially people from Kansas,” said Jane Barnette, director of the production.
Sycorax is set in the year 1989 in the African country of Algeria that reimagines the life of the alleged witch Sycorax as the healer of her country. This play can be considered a tragedy as it tells the story of an Algerian healer being dethroned of her power by men. Not to mention the play challenges the contemporary view of religion and gender expression, according to Barnette.
“The way the religious factors and the government have interacted in Algeria is a very complicated history there,” Barnette said. “Yet in our own country, you know, we have some interesting parallel with how religion and government are having important conversations and how that affects gender freedom and identity as well.”
Throughout the months of preparation, the dedicated cast worked to conceptually grasp the parallelism between the past and present time periods. And the reality surrounding both religion and gender identity freedom are aspects that remain relevant in today’s society.
“I will say that the persecution of people who practice alternative belief systems is a theme that carries throughout time,” said Alysha Griffin, a doctoral student playing the titular role of Sycorax.
Stella Garibaldi, a sophomore at the University, plays Ariel, a magical character vital to Sycorax’s story. Garibaldi has used the play to take on self-reflection of her own morals and how societal formed perceptions can largely affect situations of everyday life. Although the play conveys serious undertones, Garibaldi hopes the audience enjoys the overall story and leaves with a message.
“I think the overall takeaway for the audience from the play is the fact that every situation is three dimensional and the play does a good job of showing that,” Garibaldi said. “Every event that happens in our lives, a big decision, is a result of a complicated bet of choices, not just one factor goes into everything that we do.”
"Sycorax" will make its regional premiere on March 29 and play through April 4, excluding April 1, at 7:30 p.m., and will be held in the William Inge Memorial Theatre located in Murphy Hall. Additionally, a matinee will be performed March 31 at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets for “Sycorax” are $20 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and $15 for Kansas faculty and staff. It’s $15 for KU students at the door, and $10 for KU students in advance, with KUID.
For tickets and more details, call 785-864-3982, visit the University Theatre Ticket Office in Murphy Hall or go to kutheatre.com.
Sycorax contains scenes of violence and mature adult content. It may not be suitable for all audiences.