Drawing: Ralph Fiennes and Elisabeth Hopper in The Tempest

The Tempest

Twenty-three year old newcomer Elisabeth Hopper’s big breakthrough came with her role as Miranda the teenage castaway in Trevor Nunn‘s hit London production of Shakepeare’s last play The Tempest opposite one of her idols, Ralph Fiennes, as her father Prospero at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket in late 2011.

She made her stage debut earlier as a courtier in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, also directed by Sir Trevor at the same theatre.

Only two years prior to that Elisabeth was studying English and Drama at Manchester University, and described working with Ralph as “one of the things that dreams are made of,” to echo a line from the play.

In her audition, she performed one of Juliet’s speeches from Romeo and Juliet which Sir Trevor said was “as stunningly original and unexpected as I have ever come across.”

The production caused a bit of a storm at the box office with £1million advance tickets sales due to Ralph’s headlining appearance. “The combination of Ralph and Sir Trevor is a magical recipe” said co-producer Arnold Crook.

And it was a bit of a stormy opening night when I contemplated getting this sketch of Elisabeth and Ralph signed at the stage door. The lack of cover and positioning of the exit in a cul-de-sac creates its own ‘weather vortex’.

The Times critic Libby Purves even referred to the seasonal squall as the “first equinoctial gales swept London – a classic Tempest on and off the stage”.

Not an environment conjusive to signing. I left the drawing at the stage door, which both them signed and returned to me.

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