Action-Packed “Macbeth” Brings Gore, Shakespearean Drama to CFA Green
Think back to your 11th grade English class. It’s eight in the morning, and you’re stumbling through words like “abstemious” and wondering why you can’t just say “you” instead of “thou.” Your teacher makes you and your less-than-thrilled classmate reenact a battle sequence, which ends with you poking your partner with a ruler.
William Shakespeare is rolling in his grave. Fast forward to the present. Michael Steves ’13 wants to bring the glory back to his work.
This weekend, Second Stage presents “Macbeth,” directed by Steves, who takes this tragedy to its most violent and gory limits. In order to capture the true supernatural feel of the play, Steves chose to wander outside the ’92 Theater and onto the CFA green, where the play will be performed between the CFA Arts Hall and Zilkha building.
Coordinating an outdoor performance has produced obvious challenges, but the cast agreed that the outdoor space is crucial to the tone of their production.
“Shakespeare often feels distant for college students, so the outside setting makes it feel more real,” said cast member Rachel Leshin ’15.
Paulie Lowther ’13, who plays Macbeth, agreed.
“It’s good to hear your voice echo outside,” he said. “We don’t have to worry about an elaborate set; stone and grass is all you need. This show has a supernatural feeling, and it needs to be done in a setting that brings you somewhere else.”
The cast is concerned with losing the effect of the outdoor setting if there is rain during a performance, which is predicted for Friday’s forecast. In the case of rain, the show will either be cancelled or relocated to the World Music Hall, although the cast agrees that an indoor performance will not have the same energy.
The cast is composed of over twenty actors, including extras, a particularly large cast, especially compared to other Second Stage shows this semester.
Cast member Coz Deike ’15 found the amount of people working on the show to be positive for the final outcome.
“It’s been a good experience to work with so many talented actors and actresses in such a large ensemble," he said. "This play is difficult, but it’s a classic.”
Besides the larger cast, “Macbeth” differs from other Second Stage shows this semester simply by taking on Shakespeare’s legendary prose.
“Shakespeare provides a level of difficulty of just understanding what you’re saying,” says Deike. “It’s important to not get into the groove of just talking to the audience and to still play to your characters. You’re still trying to do it as real as you can with language you might not understand immediately.”
While trying to make the play as authentically Shakespearean as possible, Steves also took initiative to make the performance supernatural and violent. The cast uses a great deal of fake blood and stage combat to recreate numerous battle scenes, with a final one involving the entire cast.
“Steves shaved Macbeth down into an action film,” Lawther said.
This “action film” adaptation of Shakespeare has helped make the play more accessible even to those who are not the Bard’s biggest fans, which was important to the production team’s mission.
“Michael told us that we had to think about these characters as real people with real emotions,” Leshin said. “The characters may have spoken in a vernacular language that’s different from ours, but that doesn’t always translate into big gestures and fake accents.”
With such a talented cast and the chance to watch them fight to the death, this is certainly a production that should not be missed. Come to the CFA green this weekend for a thrilling Shakespearien adventure.
“Don’t sit in the front row if you don’t want blood on you,” Lowther warned.