The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance (Tempest, V.i.).

This summer I have spent my evenings in rehearsals for the Tempest. Over the past six years, I’ve thrown myself into straight plays, musical theatre, and light opera. From having had zero experience in 2004, this show will be my 17th production. The preparations, the auditions, the rehearsals, the performances have been both terrifying and thrilling—but most of all, the entire process has been transformational. Of all the shows, William Shakespeare’s have impacted my personal and professional development in ways that no other playwrights have. His words are as timely now as 400 years ago.
The title of this blog is uttered by Prospero in the final act of the Tempest. He’s had his Dukedom usurped by his brother, been forsaken by the King, abandoned by all but one friend, and banished to an island with his little daughter. Now, 12 years later, he creates a tempest to shipwreck these men onto his island. He has absolute power to extract his revenge!
In the climax of the play, with complete control over the fate of every human on the island, Prospero learns from his magical spirit, Ariel, that the shipwrecked nobility are now suffering due to their long-ago actions. Ariel suggests that if Prospero were to see them, his “affections would become tender.” (Tempest V.i.) And Ariel isn’t even human! Rather than punish, Prospero chooses to forgive the men, bless his daughter’s engagement to the king’s son, and return to civilization. Why? Because he made a choice: virtue over vengeance. WOW.
What does this mean to us, 400 years later? With or without an Ariel at your side, can you allow yourself to see “choice” in every decision you make? Whether you have planned your actions for months…or for 12 years…do you choose to exercise virtue whenever you can?

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