Macbeth - Live!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
It's not about Last Friday Night, but about last Saturday night. No, I didn't go to a raving party, but to a production of Macbeth put on by The Grassroots Shakespeare Company. Not as awesome as Katy Perry? I would disagree. And no, I'm not a nerd, it was simply an awesome production. Here are some highlights:


The company tried to keep it as realistic to the times as possible, so they kept everything simple - a.k.a. a lot of things that Shakespeare would have had access to. This included the 'mood lights'. Now, I don't know that he would have had light generators, but there were three light settings: regular white, regal red, and royal blue. This separated the play into simple scenes: the normal everyday conversations, the murder and death scenes, and the dark night scenes. Pretty simple, but really easy to follow.


So... there really weren't any cameras. However, there was some gaming. Little Fleance was caught sneaking out his little handheld gaming device. Or should I say her gaming device. Trying to keep it realistic, they had males playing female parts and females playing male parts (even though they didn't have female actors during Shakespeare's time). This lack of technology didn't slow the actors down though as the play became more about the audience than about the grand performance of the actors. And it worked. The audience was much more interactive as they booed Lady Macbeth and cheered on Macduff as he fought. They hid Fleance from the murderers and shook hands with the actors as they were titled to new positions. This production didn't use cameras to provide a physical separation. They literally jumped right in!


As for action, all I have to do is send out the reminder that it was Macbeth. Of course there was action! It would be interesting seeing a production of Macbeth without any. That would produce a very short play... However, fortunately there was some and it kept things moving along and once again produced some laughs, cheers, boos, and general comments from the groundlings. Interestingly enough though, the actors were able to play off of that - using the cheers to buoy themselves up, trying to hide the pointing fingers when they asked who could have killed the king. The actors' actions played off the audience's actions, proving a direct interaction between the two.

Reading Shakespeare's Macbeth, people can forget the personal aspect of this play. What The Grassroots Shakespeare Company reminded me was the fact that Shakespeare was writing for the audience. He wanted them to gasp in fear at the terrible deed of killing a king, laugh at the drunk porter, feel a sense of triumph as Macduff triumphs over the evil Macbeth. This play was written to give the audience their own personal journey through the story, and let me tell you - Macbeth leads you through one heck of a journey!


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