The Tempest rehearsals. pic by Simon Vail

Getting Michael Corbidge on board to direct The Tempest outdoors in Oxford University Parks for Oxford Theatre Guild‘s annual production is a massive coup.

Renowned for his exuberant and elemental teaching practices, mainly at the Royal Shakespeare Company, bringing Shakespeare to life is in his blood, and he revels in modern, outdoor productions.

So why The Tempest? “It’s definitely in my ‘Top 10’ Shakespeare’s because it takes the audience on such a fascinating journey and never loses relevance or resonance – the usurpation of power, colonialism and the subordination of race is still so prescient,” he says.


Is that why Michael’s productions always set in the present day? “I’m not one for jewelled cod pieces,” he says. “I want to change the perspective of those who had a traumatic Shakespearian school experience.

The Tempest rehearsals. Pic by Simon Vail

So we are talking short, sharp Shakespeare, or light, tight and bright as I like to put it. It’s had a good edit so it’s 90 minutes long, two hours with an interval, and we are pulling up the anchor and setting out to sail the seas. It’s just a rollicking good yarn.

“I want to affect an audience and for them to have a really amazing time – to live it literally and relate to it. So it has to be robust and clear for everyone which means staging Shakespeare for now and really telling the story,” he says.

“we are pulling up the anchor and setting out to sail the seas. It’s a rollicking good yarn”

“Shakespeare should be spoken and works so well outside. It’s like sound art. We need to hear the movement in his quill when he writes – the rustle of the trees, the crash of a wave, the roar of the wind – the surrounding environment needs to be brought in and put into practice – and that’s what we hope to encompass here.”

Michael’s unique approach promises to create a truly magical production, transporting audiences to the island where Prospera, the former Duchess of Milan, seeks revenge against those who usurped her.

Michael Corbidge

As for the cast, Michael says: “I’m all for gender blind casting so we have a female Prospera and an amazing, diverse and inclusive cast.”

And while OTG is technically an amateur group, the strength and quality of their productions is second to none, so we are in for a treat.

The Tempest runs at Oxford University Parks from Tuesday 19 – Saturday 30 July at 7pm (excluding Sunday 24 July), plus a matinee on Saturday 23 July at 2.30pm. Book at