How does Atwood preserve the idea of illusion without focusing too much on magic in Hag-Seed?

Atwood preserves the idea of illusion without focusing too much on magic in Hag-Seed through the use of dramatic artifice. In staging his production of The Tempest with inmates of a correctional facility, Felix uses bizarre costumes to transform his troupe of players into their characters. In doing so, he manages to create illusion without resorting to magic.

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The flamboyant artistic director Felix is very much the Prospero of Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood's take on The Tempest. Unlike Shakespeare's protagonist, however, he is incapable of working magic. Nevertheless, he's something of a whizz at using dramatic artifice as a way of constructing his own unique version of reality.

Emerging from an extensive period of hibernation out in the wilderness, Felix is determined to make his comeback as an artistic director. In doing so, he also hopes to gain revenge on his bitter rival Tony, who years before was responsible for getting him fired from a Canadian theater festival just before he was about to stage his own production of The Tempest. Deprived of an opportunity to unleash his masterwork upon an unsuspecting world, Felix has been itching for revenge ever since.

Now, at long last, he has his chance for some well-deserved payback. He's going to stage his production of The Tempest at a correctional facility, using inmates as actors. And his nemesis, Tony, now a government minister, will be in the audience. But Felix doesn't want his inmate actors to look like inmates; he wants them to inhabit the characters that they play.

In order to do this, Felix will have to generate a sense of illusion, and the way he does this is through elaborate costumes and bizarre stage effects. For instance, his Ariel will be played by a transvestite on stilts, who will transform into a giant firefly at significant moments. As for Caliban, he'll be a "scabby" street person—a paraplegic, no less—who'll push himself around the stage on an oversized skateboard.

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