A busy Bard week of taking the play apart so that we can put it back together again. The best news was reclaiming our beloved Quad space in the name of Bard! The transition from the dark, temperature-controlled Withycombe Mainstage out into the expanses of nature went (surprisingly) smoothly. The actors were definitely ready for the move and the summer sunshine certainly infused a new level of energy into the process as a whole. Pictured above we are working in the space for the first time and we are utterly dwarfed by the size of the MU. Everything about the performances must adjust. Having blocked all of Act I in the Withycombe space, it was interesting to see the moments that translated well into the larger venue and those that needed more drastic adjustments.
Now a delicate dance occurs between balancing the spectacle demanded by the space itself and keeping the integrity of the story. Cool fight scenes, well-conceived special effects, and clever design choices enhance and audience's experience and certainly contribute to an engaging piece of theatre, but without clear storytelling and characterization it's all flash and no substance. It's empty calories. Macbeth as a play is, thankfully, intriguing enough to embrace high-concept theatrical moments AND complicated psychological analysis of the characters.
Early discoveries were made in the Quad space over the last week, I believe, through the transition. While it's easy to get away with more subtle choices in a smaller indoor venue, the outdoor Quad space demands clear and bold choices. These choices began to take shape in all the performers this week as they became more confident with their blocking and with the space itself.
The less artistic, yet not less important, element of marketing also began to bloom this week. The printing of our very artistic graphic design helped contribute to another boost in cast morale. Nathan Langner's slick Tarantino-esque design captures the spirit of the show perfectly: Dirty. Sexy. Fun. When considering blocking and characterization choices for the actors to explore in this show, I keep going back to the sense of movement and tension depicted in the graphic design. I want the show to feel like a bloody, violent thrill ride as Macbeth, a profoundly flawed human being, unravels and through a process of his mistakes discovers (or rediscovers) his own sense of humanity and reverence for life and the living.