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MACBETH

Photos from EHS Flickr

Illustrations By Hayoung Lee

The sophomore class talk about their process in creating their scenes for the Macbeth performance they collectively worked on as an entire grade.

Camila Zambrana

Q: What character were you playing as? Can you give the context of the scene your character was acting in?

I was playing as Lady Macbeth, in Act 1 Scene 5, when she is reading a letter that describes the prophecies Macbeth heard from the witches. She is worried that Macbeth is too innocent to go through the necessary procedures, of killing Duncan and other enemies, to take over the throne. Later she becomes mad at Macbeth for backing up on the plan

Q: Can you describe the directing choices you/your group made to deliver your scene?

In the first scene, where Lady Macbeth walks out to the stage, she is center staged to the audience and walks diagonally while reading the letter. Macbeth comes out to the stage after Lady Macbeth, to show how at this moment, Lady Macbeth is superior to Macbeth.

Q: During the time you read Macbeth’s letter, your body language was very open, and you made many gestures opening up to the audience. Could you describe why you utilized this feature into your monologue?

The choice of Lady Macbeth’s stance opening up to the audience while she reads the letter has many reasons as to why it was chosen. One of them is to give the closest impression of how Macbeth, with his pride and confidence, would have read the letter. Another one was to make the scene more dramatic for the audience to understand, where she claims the words and language of the strong warrior, implying her longing for more power and control.

Q: What prompted you to slap Macbeth? What message or feeling did you want to be delivered to the audience from that?

Lady Macbeth’s slap of Macbeth signifies more control for Lady Macbeth over Macbeth and shows how he is stepping down in his manliness. This slap was prompted, as I wanted to show how Lady Macbeth was belittling Macbeth and his masculinity. It shows how Lady Macbeth is stripping Macbeth of his manliness, and his confidence, implying the shift in gender roles present in Macbeth, where often the female is more superior to the male.

Q: What do you believe the gender dynamic to be in Shakespeare’s Macbeth? Do you think the female is superior to the male? Or is it otherwise?

I don’t think there’s a set gender that is always more superior to the other gender. It’s usually dependent on which scene the characters are present. In this particular scene, the female character, Lady Macbeth is shown to be mentally superior to the male character, as Lady Macbeth removes Macbeth of his pride verbally, using words. Macbeth, on the other hand, is the character who usually does the physical deeds necessary, such as murdering Duncan and getting murderers to kills Banquo. That being said, she isn’t exactly a puppeteer in every scene, as the power dynamic shifts throughout the play.

Q: Any other comments you’d like to add?

There is a certain element I wanted to add in the scene that I didn’t get to add in the end. When she claims Macbeth to be an innocent flower, but a serpent inside, persuading Macbeth to be more evil and cunning, welcoming Duncan dearly when he comes, I wanted to add more physical contact between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, to add a bigger sense of power dynamic between the two characters, to show Lady Macbeth’s superiority in her evilness, and her mental strength over Macbeth.

Helen Chen

Q: What character were you playing as? Can you give the context of the scene your character was acting in?

I am playing the character Macbeth, during the scene of his feast commemorating his new position as king, where other lords come to his castle. At this point, Macbeth as killed Duncan, and told three murderers to kill Banquo, as he believed Banquo to realize Macbeth a the culprit due to the fact that they listened to the witches’ prophecy together. As Fleance fled from the murderers, and as Macbeth has shed lots of blood recently, he is currently in a anxious state, fearing the threat of revenge.

Q: Can you describe the directing choices you/your group made to deliver your scene?

Most of the staging came naturally instead of it coming deliberately. Our group did have to make choices in some elements such as deciding how to set up the table where the lords sat to feast. The concern came as if positioned vertically, Macbeth wouldn’t have been clearly seen, and not all of the lords would have been seen either. If positioned horizontally, Macbeth would be at a skewed position, but we went with positioning the table horizontally as even if skewed, we wanted to show all the characters and their interactions with another to the audience.

Q: What message were you trying to bring to the audience with your acting of Macbeth?

I interpreted Macbeth, during this scene to be completely insane, wrestling with his inner self. He is uncertain and extremely paranoid, as he is concerned with the threat of revenge. While he regains sanity during the feast, the presence of ghost Banquo shifts him to once again be anxious.

Q: Your group had an extensive amount of props on stage. What do you believe the significance of having such props to be?

I believe that having many props brings the audience closer to the setting, to the feast of New York. It makes them feel the scene to be realistic, feeling more engaged to the scene and resonate to it than a play.

Q:  Could you tell us the reason why you transformed the scene to a modern day New York setting, and why you had the phone messages up at the background?

The main reason we transformed this scene to modern day New York, was because of our lack of costumes and props to perfectly re-create the settings back then. We decided to cover this issue with the creative choice of setting in  on a modern setting. We chose New York because it is a big, metropolitan city. If I was a king, I would definitely want to be at a setting like that.

 

A(continued): The phone messages were inspired by the horror movie, Black Web, where there is an extensive amount of screen recording that is utilized to deliver the story. I found it cool that technology was being incorporated into storytelling methods, so I wanted to do something similar. The text messages serve as the inner thoughts the lords are going through while Macbeth has his fit with ghost Banquo in the ‘Thanes of New York’ group chat. We originally wanted to use airplay to actually show the lords messaging using airplay, but due to technical difficulties, we ended up having a screenshot of the messages instead. We wanted to make sure that we were able to deliver everyone’s thoughts and emotions than just highlighting Lady Macbeth and Macbeth so that we can show everyone’s presence on stage. We feel that Shakespeare did not incorporate this feature into his play of Macbeth.

Q: Your interactions with ghost Banquo often involved moving around and chasing ghost Banquo. There was even one scene where ghost Banquo was behind Lady Macbeth. Could you describe the reasons as to why you made these choices in setting up this scene?

Banquo moving quite a lot was a choice we made as we believed that if, in the original play, Banquo’s ghost was enough to cause so much stress for Macbeth, her must have been doing a rather intimidating action. Banquo moving around, chasing Macbeth, and being chased by Macbeth emphasizes on the confusion and panic Macbeth feels. Banquo being chased by Macbeth brings light on his mindset where he wants Banquo, to simply cease and go away. Overall, ghost Banquo being kinetic adds a layer of threat to him, as it provokes Macbeth to be even more unstable than he already is.

Eli Wilcox

Q: What character were you playing as? Can you give the context of the scene your character was acting in?

I was playing as Macbeth, during his moments at the last scenes of the play, where he is completely driven to madness due to the feelings of insanity he brought upon himself, and the burden brought to him by others. This burden was brought to him by various characters, including the three witches, cursing and blessing him with the prophecy, and lady Macbeth forcing him and tricking him into malicious plans until it became his true intentions.

Q: Can you describe the directing choices you/your group made to deliver your scene?

So the thing with Shakespeare is that blocking is rather easy to do with his plays, due to that the vast majority of his plays are of words than of specific blocking directions. Most of the scenes were just simply recitations of poetry on stage, where actors simply walked on stage, said their lines, and walked off. There were instances when we chose different levels, such as Janil’s fall to the ground upon hearing Lady Macbeth’s death, but personally, for me, there weren’t many scenes where I felt compelled to go to the ground, and most of my blocking came naturally.

Q: How do you want the audience to perceive the character and personality of Macbeth you were acting? 

Macbeth is one of the worst people in Shakespeare's plays. He does have a motive that makes him descend to madness, but without context, he is a hatable character, as he kills his wife, servants, and other children. Simply put, he ruins Scotland in a short amount of time. In the earlier scenes, when he was hesitant about his desires, he may have been more likable, but in the final scenes, I was trying to display him as a despicable character. Some of the inspiration I got to play Macbeth was from Dracula actually, as I thought he’s a cool, evil guy.

Q: Was there a certain variation of Dracula that inspired you to play out Macbeth?

Actually, I just took inspiration from the concept of Dracula, not specifically a certain version of Dracula. One of my inspirations came from Castlevania.

 

Q: What prompted your group to use loaves of bread for swords?

Well, we thought that it would be funny to add it. When it got suggested I said “That’s the most genius I’ve heard in my entire life,” and simply went on with it. I like humor, and I think for every sad moment, there’s another funny moment. The toy castle on stage was also another idea we suggested, but it ended up serving as a simple background that was hard to carry and spilled lots of mud and water. I guess, for every good idea, there’s a bad idea.

Q: What prompted your group to transition the scenes using posters & music?

Well, the transition of scenes using posters was inspired by Spongebob, and the music, while heavily debated and controversial at first, we ended up going with it. I was one of the people who wanted the music from the start, as I think the music does add an element of entertainment and humor in it. I think humor is the core of life.

Q: There was a memorable scene where you told Seyton to “Take thy face hence,” and blocked his face using your hand. What prompted you to make such choices to deliver this scene?

It actually just fitted in. “Take thy face hence,” means “ I don’t want to see your face anymore,” and I blocked Seyton’s face using my hand to literally display the lines, so I don’t see his face anymore. This gesture just came to me naturally.

Q: Any other comments?

We didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for these performances, and we even had some characters get replaced by other characters last minute. Seyton, played by Jake Lee, and Stern Cohen were from another class, and we didn’t rehearse with them until the final moment on stage. In terms of the preparation process, I spent about 2 weeks memorizing my lines, and our group practiced in class for one week. We practiced in various locations like Blackbox, in our classrooms, and in a basketball gym. That wasn’t the best choice as it was very echoey there.

Arabella Dixon

Q: What character were you playing as? Can you give the context of the scene your character was acting in?

I played as Lady Macbeth during the scene where Ghost Banquo appears during the feast celebrating Macbeth’s newly gained position as King. My character’s role is to try to calm Macbeth’s panicked attitude down, and to prevent the other guests from suspecting of something sinister to have happened. This showed the motif of paranoia.

Q: Can you describe the directing choices you/your group made to deliver your scene?

The scene of this feast was placed in modern day New York, as we thought that by doing it would be a more interesting experience. We added a screenshot of the lords texting in the background, to give their characters more depth instead of having no lines. This interpretation related to the daily situations of modern day society, as if the scenario was simply moved from the old times of Shakespeare to the current times.

Q: What message were you trying to bring to the audience with your acting of Lady Macbeth? Could you describe your relationship dynamic with Macbeth during this scene?

What I tried to convey with my acting of Lady Macbeth was that she is trying to calm the guests and the audience down from Macbeth’s attitude. Towards Macbeth, I acted annoyed and mad at him for potentially blowing their cover. Her annoyance of Macbeth can be vividly visible as I stood in front of Macbeth, frustrated, and I sometimes even took out my anger on the audience. An example of showcasing such frustration was the instance I said the line “Think of this, my peers,” as I pushed myself in front of Macbeth towards the audience to show more dominance than Macbeth, to say that Macbeth is simply out of it, so just listen to me instead.

Q: Could you tell us the reason why you transformed the scene to a modern day New York setting, and why you had the phone messages up at the background?

We chose New York as we wanted to build a relationship with the audience, so that they could understand better of what exactly was going on in the scene. For the Lords’ messages, it was so that they could interact more, and show their thoughts regarding Macbeth and Lady Macbeth during the meeting. The lords thought both Lady Macbeth and Macbeth to be crazy, and we wanted to show their feelings by including texts such as “She needs milk.”

Q: What message were you trying to bring to the audience with your acting of Lady Macbeth? Could you describe your relationship dynamic with Macbeth during this scene?

What I tried to convey with my acting of Lady Macbeth was that she is trying to calm the guests and the audience down from Macbeth’s attitude. Towards Macbeth, I acted annoyed and mad at him for potentially blowing their cover. Her annoyance of Macbeth can be vividly visible as I stood in front of Macbeth, frustrated, and I sometimes even took out my anger on the audience. An example of showcasing such frustration was the instance I said the line “Think of this, my peers,” as I pushed myself in front of Macbeth towards the audience to show more dominance than Macbeth, to say that Macbeth is simply out of it, so just listen to me instead.