Merely Players Open Season with Shakespeare’s The Tempest

October 7, 2023

Merely Players brings Shakespeare to life for modern audiences and contributes to a thriving local theatre scene in Durango. Talented actors, artists, and technicians in the local community come together to create collective art that celebrates imagination, innovation, and creativity. Merely Players has a diverse and interesting season ahead in 2023-24, kicking off with a Shakespearean classic, the Bard’s final play, The Tempest, showing from October 6th - October 15th at the Merely Underground in the Durango Tech Center. By Jessica McCallum. This story is sponsored by Tafoya, Barrett & Associates and Kroegers Ace Hardware

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Merely Players storms into their 2023-'24 season with a Shakespearean favorite, "The Tempest". Shakespeare's magical tale of revenge and redemption runs from October 6th to October 15th at the Merely Underground in the Durango Tech Center. You're watching the "Local News Network", brought to you by Tafoya Barrett and Associates and Kroegers Ace Hardware. I'm Gillian Arnwine. Merely Players is a locally acclaimed non-profit theater company founded in 1994 by Charles Ford and Mona Wood-Patterson, the former theater directors of Durango High School Troupe 1096. Ford and Wood-Patterson retired from DHS in 2011 to dedicate their talents full-time to Merely Players and have grown it into a thriving company dedicated to enriching the cultural life of the community with quality theater and providing creative opportunities for homegrown talent. Producing the works of Shakespeare for modern audiences has long been a passion and mission for Merely Players.

Shakespeare's my particular love. I would rather direct Shakespeare than any other author. And it's truly been a joy to get to uncover these five acts. And it's a magical island. It's a land of enchantment, but also the people there are very real. It's a story of love. It's a story of wrong. It's a story of forgiveness. It's a story of redemption. Shakespeare can give us all that in five acts.

After many years of renting local venues and found spaces, Merely is kicking off its third season in the Merely Underground, a black box theater in the Durango Tech Center that they transform for each show. For "The Tempest", the Merely Underground has been transformed into a magical island of Shakespeare's imagination. The scenic design of Merely's version of "The Tempest" was inspired in part by a trip to Ireland, where Wood-Patterson and Ford visited the other worldly Giant's Causeway.

We thought, can we get that kind of feel of being in a different world of this earth, but not of this earth and geometric? Prospero's a magician and back in the Middle Ages, people into magic believed that geometry had magical powers. And so I liked the idea of having geometric things on the set.

What I love about working on Shakespeare with Merely is that Mona always has a very strong sense of what. You know, what the real heart of the story is, and that's always the thing that we come back to. So no matter what kind of modern or anachronistic things, you might hear a quote from like Taylor Swift in this version of "The Tempest", or handmade puppets by Charles embodying the goddesses. There's a ton of magic that's happening. We come across like fairies and creatures and all this kind of very fantastical stuff. Everything that behind it is the heart of the story, which is kind of Prospero's journey through revenge and then ultimately forgiveness.

Playing Prospero is veteran Shakespeare actor Paul Laakso.

The version of "The Tempest" here is, it's a fantasy. It's a comedy. I think there are still serious moments in the play, but it's much lighter. And Mona really goes for the comedy in the play.

Although tickets have been sold out for weeks, it is still possible to see "The Tempest". You can sign up on the wait list or go to the theater a half hour before showtime where seats often open up at the last minute. Tickets are now on sale for the remainder of the Merely season, so be sure to get tickets to future shows before they sell out. Ultimately, community is at the center of the Merely Players mission and they want their audience to get involved.

Just participate in theater in any way, whether you're an audience member or a donor or if you want to come help us out with our set and lights. We really are an open door here and we're so interested in engaging the community in what it is that we do, and we want you to feel ownership over it. So if you're curious at all, please reach out, look at and get some more information. But we can't wait to see you at Merely Underground.

For more information about this and other stories, visit Thank you for watching this edition of the "Local News Network". I'm Gillian Arnwine.


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