Advice To The Players Presents “Macbeth”
Advice To The Players gave a brilliant performance of Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” at the Silver Center for the Arts. The play was 90 minutes long, followed by a talk back between the audience and the cast.
The cast gave a striking performance of the play filled with murder, insanity and witchcraft. There were fight scenes with clanging swords, and witches (summoned by an eerie bell ringing in the distance) casting spells over a boiling cauldron.
“Macbeth” is set in a country divided, with many living in fear under a new government. “We had no idea how timely our choice would be,” said director Jessie Chapman.
Chapman has been with ATTP since 2007 and began teaching theater at PSU this fall. Chapman graduated with a masters in performing arts management from Brooklyn College and has worked as a teaching artist and company manager for various companies.
“Macbeth” was announced as this year’s spring touring production last April at ATTP’s Bard’s Birthday celebration. It was chosen through an audience poll.
ATTP’s “Macbeth” has a cast of 15. Actors have a wide range of ages and backgrounds. The play made use of multi-generational and cross-gender casting. Many of the cast members performed more than one role throughout the play. This double casting was intentionally done, said Chapman, so that the actors could look at the different sides of humanity.
“I believe it takes all parts of humanity to tell a story worth telling,” said Chapman. “Representation of different perspectives onstage is important and welcome at ATTP.”
The play is loosely based off of real events that took place in feudal Scotland. Shakespeare tried to create a play that would entertain the new King James I, who had previously been King James VI of Scotland. The three Weird Sisters were included in the play because King James I believed in witchcraft.
“‘Macbeth’ is called the cursed play because Shakespeare supposedly stole the witches’ lines from actual witches” said Chapman.
There are a few superstitious cast members, and while some people thought that perhaps the cursed play might have had something to do with the freak storm, three actors dropping out, a stuck car and a stubbed toe, other people thought it seemed like a pretty normal series of events for their troupe.
“I feel like that is just our company,” said Angela Hope Smith, who played Lady Macbeth and a witch.
Assistant director and actor Ben Smarzynski, who played Macbeth, agreed. “Yeah, only this play, we had an excuse.”
The company only had one dress rehearsal with the entire cast before the first performance on March 25. Which, said Chapman, wasn’t so bad, because Shakespeare’s company only had three days to prepare before a play.
Memorizing 90 minutes of Shakespeare is no easy task, but according to the cast, it was easier to memorize lines written in verse than lines written in prose. “It is easier doing Shakespeare than contemporary, because iambic pentameter is the beat of your heart” said Carmen-maria Mandley, who played Macduff and Hecate.
The company, Advice To The Players, is a non-profit organization located in Sandwich, NH. They perform two full-scale productions in the summer and spring, as well as smaller performances during their summer season. ATTP also offers classes, camps, and workshops during the summer and winter.
The troupe’s name comes from a scene in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” when Hamlet is giving advice to the traveling players who will enact his father’s murder.
He tells them, “the purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was and is, to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature.”
This is the advice that Advice To The Players tries to aspire in all their plays, as if this wisdom came from Shakespeare himself.
"Macbeth" will continue to play April 7 - 9 at the M&D Playhouse in North Conway, NH. For more information, visit www.advicetotheplayers.org/macbeth-2017
COURTESY IMAGE / ADVICE TO THE PLAYERS
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