Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation...

Look you, and behold, and be afraid. 'Tis my 17 fellows, brothers and sisters and bloody conspirators who did enact upon the misty Pennsylvanian night the story of a Scot gone wrong, and his "fiendlike queen"; of Weird Sisters of suburban upbringing, who did paint themselves green and toss dry ice chips into their smoky abyss, conjuring hell's breath under thundrous skies; of the righteous Thane of Fife and his 'venging blade; of feckless murderers and their noble victim; of falsely accused princes, their betrayéd father's corpse still warm as they flew to British haven; of ghosts of kings yet to be; of a red-painted set and and an uplit entrance; of lavender filter and duelling tartan; of that fleet flicker of theatrical elementasia, burning a bardic nova for an hour and 45, with a snack of whole-wheat cheddar bunnies at the Interval.

Direct Shakespeare? I asked myself. Why not take a risk. The play's the thing, after all, even after I spent two merciless nights with the red pen, Sweeny Todd-style, slicing entire scenes, chunks of scenes, even gutting individual speeches. It was literary surgery, and as I dug out Macbeth's extra flesh, I fretted it would still be too long.

The noble Banquo, back from the grave to stir things up.
'Twas not, and chiefly due to my actors' hard work on the text, 'cause when you're making good by the story, time doesn't matter. Also, Macbeth is one of those plays, a scholarly friend pointed out to me, that lends itself to maximum spectacle, and we were able to pull out a few stops, particularly with the top of Part II.

Just a few ladies in the woods doing God's work...
 Not all of my design elements made it into the performance--due to a rainstorm/electronic tragedy that afternoon, deserving of its own five-act play--but for "Eye of newt, toe of frog..." I think we nailed it.

It's these little tastes of  truth, if you will, that sew together the gossamer quiltwork that is live theatre. The scene above could only happen on this night, with the actors holding nothing back, and only when the rains permitted it, having cleared up just hours prior. Costume, makeup, the sound effect of whistling wind, lighting, haze, dry ice, artists.

Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow
 And truth was also achieved with much less hoopla. The quiet truth of Ernesto Renda, for example, who brought humility and a measured pride to the title role, one of the most ambitious in the canon.

Lady Mac, near her end.
 And the uncontained truth of Maya Olivia Baker-Pettersen, a searing Lady Macbeth portrayed by a young woman not yet out of high school. Watch for her on larger stages, I'll warr'nt.
Lay on, Macduff!
In the end, the butcher was dispatched by a grief-hardened Macduff as embodied by a fierce Cullen Denton, who gamely tried on all the emotive hats and fight choreography tossed at him by his maniacal director.
Malcolm exults in the birth of a new Scotland

Everyone in the ensemble contributed to this night; everyone stretched their wings from rehearsal to performance. I was immeasurably proud of them all.


  1. "Or have we eaten on the insane root
    That takes the reason prisoner?"

    i used to ask myself that very question when taking on a theatrical challenge - but bringing Shakespeare to youth, and youth to Shakespeare? Nothing insane about that!

    Congratulations to you and the ensemble for spending a portion of your summer growing wings!

  2. O my Daisy! Thank you. How much do I love that you rattled that off--such a good line.

  3. One of my favorite quotes, which I think could, maybe should, be a laugh line is: "The time has been / That when the brains were out, the man would die / And there an end." It's like he's saying, "What the F*#K do you have to do to kill a guy these days?!?" Some day, I'll do the all-comedy Macdeath.

  4. many thanks my friend for your lovely comment on my wee blog,wow you look like you all had so much fun,love and peace from the wee hermit hovel here in the Scottish Mountains