I chose the scene in The Tempest where Ariel transforms into a harpy as the starting point for my animation. I based the method of transformation as a hikinuki, the art of the instant costume change, characteristic of Japanese Kabuki theatre. I researched Kabuki, the acting and stage conventions, the stories and the many significant parallels it has with and Shakespeare.
I created a stop-motion puppet animation as an attempt to emulate a theatrical atmosphere in miniature. I felt that this would be appropriate in response to a collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The two characters in the animation are based on Ariel and Prospero, they wear Kabuki inspired costumes and handmade wigs.
The animation also explores a relationship between Ariel and Prospero. My version of Prospero plays multiple roles, that of musician and as a koken stagehand, but also as the magician as he miraculously reveals Ariel’s other form. Ariel plays the part of the onnagata the female-role specialist and dancer. The costume changes in Kabuki are symbolic of complete transfiguration and the dramatic colour contrast from one kimono to another can represent an actor’s change from one form to another. I hoped to maintain the integrity of this method of spectacle in the animation.