With little over a month before the season starts, Macbeth + Macdeath is really coming to life, with the last few weeks of rehearsals rapidly evolving from conceptual to the foundations of an immersive, haunting production.
Early rehearsals focused on exploring the vision of a live, innovative soundscape. It’s been so interesting to explore the effect of everyday items and even technical glitches and see how intriguing they can be in their own right. It creates a world of it’s own that in it’s familiarity makes its unnaturalness all the more unnerving.
Other rehearsals had a stronger focus on blocking and character development, with careful attention on the maneuvering of the chairs that make up the set. The base of the fight sequences has also been laid in preparation for the full battle choreography. On an aspiring directorial note, it’s really interesting to see the effectiveness of trialing scenes using a simplified recall of the lines, helping get to the essence of the line and providing additional context when returning to their original state. By the time of the performance, Macbeth will be tied with A Midsummer Night’s Dream as my most seen live play, and it’s exciting to see character motivations and personalities vary drastically with each different take.
The mixture of sound and staging in later rehearsals really brings the performance to life. With much of the soundscape being done by the witches, it adds to their sense of otherworldly control as they glide unseen throughout the set. It also makes the performance truly immersive, giving the audience a taste of Macbeth’s paranoia as they watch the motionless ensemble who at any moment could spring to life. Though these scenes take much of their power from the microphones, it’s also always great to see the various prop improvs when they’re not available – it’s no easy task to look threatening and otherworldly holding a rolling pin attached to a tie, but they manage to make it work.
Though I’m yet to see all sections of the Coda, I’m struck by the power of the group scenes. Depending on the context these mass speeches can be either inspirational or eerie, but always maintain their sheer force. I’m really excited to see this throughout the entire play, with the constant ensemble allowing for large scale crowd scenes and all the unified chaos that comes with it.
One of my favourite parts of the production so far is a reworked version of the porters scene featuring the witches. It’s almost a nightmarish nursery rhyme that reminds me of the riddles used by monsters and sorcerers in fantasy works. It struck me enough to go hunting for it through the playscript, expecting it to be taken from the often-cut Hekate scenes. I was really surprised to realise that it was actually elements of the Porter’s speech mixed with their usual sing-song style . With the mixture of the original play and the Coda contrasting a more traditional approach with contemporary criticism, it’s fitting that my new favourite lines of Macbeth have only just been created.