14th March 2018 – Year 10 students were treated to a Workshop and a performance of Macbeth yesterday courtesy of the Young Shakespeare Company. Here are some of their reviews …
Ella Gazzi, Lydia Hai, and Charlotte Opoku-Gyamfi
The play started with Macbeth and Banquo meeting the three witches who told Macbeth that he would become the Thane of Cawdor and then king, and told Banquo that his descendants will be the heirs to the throne. Then Macbeth found out that he had become the Thane of Cawdor and wrote a letter to tell Lady Macbeth the witches’ prophecies. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are then reunited and they come up with a plan to kill King Duncan. A party is then held at Macbeth’s house and that evening Macbeth kills the king. Lady Macbeth leaves the daggers in the hands of the two guards outside of the king’s chamber, making it look like they killed him. Macduff then goes to wake up Duncan but finds him dead. Macbeth kills the two guards to try and show his loyalty. Donalbain and Malcom are suspicious and separate, with Donalbain going to Ireland and Malcom going to England. Macbeth becomes king and later sends murderers to kill Banquo and his son, however the son escapes. At another party, Banquo comes back to Macbeth. Macbeth also orders for Macduff’s wife and child to be killed. After hearing the news of his wife and son’s death, Macduff kills Macbeth. Lady Macbeth also dies.
We understood the language more easily as it was acted out well, but we still struggled to understand it all. It was also a bit confusing sometimes when one actor had many roles and switched between them. The interactive session at the start gave us an overview of the characters and the story and also engaged us. It was interesting to learn about some of the character’s motivations before the play actually started.
The actors also gave us tips to help learn quotes, which was very helpful!
Katie Keary and Brogan Cummins
This Macbeth production was a touching tale of a mythical Scotland where we saw Macbeth put to the test. The acting was sensational, especially from the dark and macabre Lady Macbeth, as she swayed the opinions of the warrior, Macbeth, who was at first innocent but finished as a murderer, taking not only his King’s life but also his friends. She did this through an amazing technique of emotional blackmail, which I thought was divine.
As there were only five actors and actresses, this meant that they had to take part in multiple roles. We thought this added character and diversity to the play, which showed the actors’ and actresses’ talents through their abilities to embody themselves in many characters and still look professional. The use of props really pulled the audience in and helped us to understand the dark, effective manner of the play and the barbaric mythology of ancient Scotland. We thought that the costumes were designed perfectly to fit the roles and personalities. The choice of music really mesmerized the audience as we felt drawn in and it had us watching in awe, wondering what was going to happen next. The choice to use historical Scottish tunes also gave a sinister vibe to the play because ancient nursery rhymes had been put into a deathly context.
The company gave a workshop before the play had started, which really attracted the audience so that an emotional connection was built. It meant we got to understand the Shakespearian language better and to really feel what the actors and actresses were saying. The stage fighting section of the workshop really expressed the physical and mental emotions the characters were feeling in those stages of the play. They were so exasperated, they declared it through the form of violent fighting. This really did help us to understand the play because owe learn well through physical actions.
From this experience, we have learnt the different techniques of persuasion, the one really appealed to us from the workshop was emotional blackmail, as we really reflected on this. The play was enticing and consuming.
Allegra Verdigi and Jenny Wilson
This performance was very creative and enjoyable to watch. The five actors used the whole performing area really well. They spoke very clearly and with enough volume, although some of the language in the play was hard to understand. To help us out, they also used some modern language to enable us to understand the plot better. The actors kept a serious manner and stayed in their character’s shoes for the whole play. As each of the actors played multiply character throughout the play it shows how quickly they could change character in a matter of minute, which must be difficult to achieve well but they did this very successfully. The costumes they used were very realistic and close to the time period that Macbeth is set in. Although they had a limited amount of props, they were used appropriately in scenes. They didn’t have any scenery but because of their costumes, props and their acting, we could easily visualise the setting of each scene.
Aiofe D’Arcy and Layla Newman
We particularly enjoyed the Macbeth Workshop that took place for the first half an hour. This is because it enabled us to have a deeper understanding of the play and learn something about the characters beforehand. We found the workshop to be very entertaining and educational. Our favourite part of the workshop was when two of the actors played the clap game, during the scene of Lady Macbeth convincing her husband to kill the king. It was amusing to see how different situations can be interpreted. Furthermore, it was interesting to see and learn how actors fight on stage, without anybody being hurt.
The play, although hard to understand, was quite enjoyable due to the professional acting that was demonstrated. Since there were only five actors, there were multiple role swaps, which became confusing at times, but the actors were very convincing, and switched quickly, making the play run smoothly. In addition to this, the costumes helped distinguish the characters from each other, and the fact that the actors encouraged a few members of the audience to participate helped to maintain our interest. Also, the use of music and singing helped to create the appropriate atmosphere and maintain the interest of the audience. However, to improve the performance the actors could aim to make the production more modern, to allow us to understand the plot of the play.
Sophie Stockwell & Sophia Kress
The actors playing the characters in Macbeth were very skilled and they played multiple roles with quick costume changes. Their costumes were simple but effective as they clearly represented the characters they were playing. They didn’t use loads of props but their experience and skill was enough to help us as the audience to be able to follow the play. At the beginning of the session the actors gave a half an hour workshop explaining acting techniques and how they choose what to do during their rehearsals. This was enjoyed by many as we got involved and humour was added making it more engaging and fun. However, we would have liked this bit of the session to have been longer. From this experience, we now have a rough but fairly clear understanding of the play, and has probably helped those taking GCSE drama due to the half an hour workshop, also, the tips for learning quotations were very helpful, as we will have a lot to learn for next year’s exams. It also helped us to understand their interpretations of the character motives, and has built our confidence overall.
Lara Morrison & Scarlett Brown
We really enjoyed the performance of Macbeth. It was very engaging and entertaining to watch and participate in. The performance began with a short workshop on the way the actors decided to portray the play and how they included the fight scenes through stage fighting. It was very believable. They then moved on to a clapping exercise which involved different tactics of persuasion and how they could be portrayed to the audience. This aided us in understanding each of the characters and how they interacted with each other.
The play was very traditional and was set in the same time period, although the language was still kept similar, it was adapted to make it easier for our age group to understand. They adapted the play so that each actor could play multiple characters and this was conveyed through the costume that was worn. They showed the Scottish setting through the use of folk songs to enhance our experience.
The experience was very educational due to the question and answer at the end when the actors gave us a few tips and tricks on how to learn lines from Macbeth and apply this to exams and GCSE. This was helpful and we will definitely take this forward for the future.
To improve they could possibly include the witches more as they are a key part of the play and have fairly long scenes such as the cauldron scene which they did not include. The audience also found these characters very comical to watch and this helped to convey the story of Macbeth. Overall this was still a very good performance and we hope to see another performance from the Young Shakespeare Company soon.