A wild child on an enchanted island whose only companions are her elderly father, a mischievous spirit, and the lecherous yet eloquent “puppy-headed monster," watches a brave new world unfold before her. “How many goodly creatures are there here; how beauteous mankind is."
See Wikipedia for a detailed synopsis and comments on the themes and motifs in this play.
For those of you who provide parts a scene at a time, this Character Chart shows all the characters' lines in each scene: The Tempest
If your group reads the plays straight through in one sitting and you want to divide up the parts, we have a number of “cast” lists already divided up for you. These are text files that you can edit to suit your group. We always recommend in a straight-through read that each participant take a moment beforehand to mark their parts—then everything proceeds so smoothly.
The University of Virginia offers a number of great little articles on The Tempest: about the unities in the play, female sexuality, colonization and Caliban, even about John Dee the magician, and more.
This link is to Marjorie Garber's free Harvard lecture on The Tempest.
There has been much discussion over the years regarding Shakespeare's use of the essays of Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592), particularly Chapter 30 Of Cannibals, and also of Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince. Useful questions to think about regarding these source materials are coming soon.
This is an audio recording of the play by professional actors with sound effects.