UOG Theater releases Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest' in CHamoru

UOG Theater releases Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest' in CHamoru

UOG Theater releases Shakespeare’s 'The Tempest' in CHamoru


Group collage
(From top left) Producer Michelle Blas, Steven Torres, James Viernes, (From bottom left) Eain Taijeron, Joe Anderson, Rayanna Guzman, and Jesse Mantanona

The University of Guam Theater has released a CHamoru language podcast production of William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” The production marks the world premiere of the play in CHamoru and is also the first CHamoru translation of a Shakespearean work.

“I had always admired the works of William Shakespeare and wondered how fun it would be to hear and see one of his plays performed in CHamoru,” said Producer Michelle C. Blas, an associate professor of theater at UOG.

While there were many possibilities from Shakespeare’s repertoire to choose from, Blas said the setting and themes of “The Tempest” inspired her most and that it was a meaningful choice since she had directed a stage production of the play in English in 2012.

Featuring the talents of UOG alumni and CHamoru actors Steven Torres, Rayanna Guzman, Eain Taijeron, Jesse Mantanona, James Viernes, and Joe Anderson, the podcast performance features themes of magic and illusion, love and loss, colonization, and forgiveness.

Considered one of Shakespeare’s most magical plays, “The Tempest” tells the story of Prospero, a usurped Duke of Milan who uses sorcery to create a tempest and cause a shipwreck to bring his treacherous brother, Antonio, as well as the King and Prince of Naples, and other lords to the mysterious island where he has lived in exile with his daughter, Miranda, for 12 years. He is assisted by the indigenous airy spirit Ariel and the reluctant servant monster Caliban.

Blas enlisted the help of her 70-year-old mother, Beatrice Blas Aguon, a native CHamoru speaker, to translate the play over eight months. Aguon passed away three weeks after completing the project, in July 2020.

“I am so grateful I had this unique journey with her. It was an incredible gift, and I hope it will inspire others to continue endeavors like this to hear our language in a different way and know that it can be done,” Blas said. 

The YouTube production includes a link to side-by-side English and CHamoru scripts, as translated by Aguon with assistance and editing from James Viernes, for listeners to follow along.

The production is accessible on YouTube at https://youtu.be/HSnwEbz78QU.