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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds James played Caliban in a production of The Tempest at the Globe Theatre in London. For this, he was dressed in rags and made up to look bruised and blood stained. Keep watching to see why James found the character of Caliban so interesting to play. Caliban is a very interesting part in that he’s described by all the other characters in the play in so many different ways. He’s a monster. He’s a demi-devil. He’s a fish. He’s a mooncalf. He’s deformed. A lot of these things are contradictory. How can he be a devil, and a fish, and a mooncalf, and a deformed human? I think for an Elizabethan mind, Caliban would have struck them as being a devil.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds As I say, he has all the vices– greed, wrath, lust. All the really bad things that people think drive them, Caliban has. But he’s also kept human by Shakespeare. He doesn’t have any magic. He clearly is in love with Miranda– desperately in love– but has been rejected by her and by Prospero. So his fury is coming from a place of love, too. So that’s how I started– was not wanting to rule anything out but try and keep everything in. So then you find a design that suits that and then you try also to do a realistic, naturalistic thing, which is to imagine what it’s like to be someone who was deserted on an island as a baby.

Skip to 1 minute and 53 seconds His mother dies before Prospero finds him, and he’s been left as a small child on an island surrounded by wild animals. So there’s a lot of complicated interesting things that you can do psychologically from research and through design.

Playing Caliban

Watch this film to see why James found the character of Caliban so interesting to play.

Which does James say are:

  • Caliban’s negative characteristics
  • Calibans’s positive characteristics

What else does James do to help him imagine the role of Caliban?

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council