Actors' Theatre is keeping the set design for its upcoming production of "The Tempest" under wraps, promising a unique take on Shakespeare's play.

Actors' Theatre is keeping the set design for its upcoming production of "The Tempest" under wraps, promising a unique take on Shakespeare's play.

"When you have monsters and spirits and somebody that can do magic and change things, I think you want something that is out of this world," said Pamela Hill, the play's director.

The nonprofit theatre company will perform "The Tempest" 8 p.m. each Thursday through Sunday from July 2 through Aug. 2 at Schiller Park, 1000 City Park Ave.

The shows are free, but donations are encouraged.

One of the last plays Shakespeare wrote, "The Tempest" centers on the banished sorcerer Prospero, the rightful Duke of Milan, who uses his powers to cause a storm that shipwrecks his enemies on the island he calls home. It has elements of both comedy and tragedy.

In working on the play, Hill said she considered the magical elements of the island and believed it would add to the fantasy.

For example, Hill said she and the scenic designer, Victor Shonk, worked to make objects such as trees and leafs seem unnatural.

"That's what we started with and what we came up with will be really fun for the audience," Hill said. "When people come, I want them to say 'What is that made of?'

"The designers are really having fun with this," she said.

Hill said the set design drove a large part of the production.

"The people who come onto the island from the outside have regular clothes on but the people on the island are dressed in different things," she said. "That means all the props have to be fantastical that means when they are carrying rods (walking sticks) they aren't actually carrying wood."

This is the third time Shonk has done set design for "The Tempest."

He said he has approached each production differently.

"You know what the script requires," he said. "There are things you have to have for the plot to progress. You try to go in with a fresh point of view."

In this case, Shonk said he considered the story's resolution.

"Everybody ends up happy at the end and the scenery is reflective of that," he said. "The show is really fantastic because of its magic. In my opinion it's one of Shakespeare's best show -- it's right behind "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet."

In addition, on the opening night of the production there will be a dinner fundraiser for the theatre company. A tent will be set up for the show and tickets are $50 apiece.

For more information, call the company's office at 444-6888.

dcross@thisweeknews.com