Murray High theatre Return returns from Big Apple to perform “Macbeth”
Murray High theatre students will take the stage in May to perform William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” as well as direct one-act plays. (Will Saxton/Murray High School)
By Julie Slama | Julie@mycityjournals.com
After returning from New York City where students had a chance to see Broadway shows and learn from professionals, Murray High theatre students return to their own stage to perform William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
The show begins at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 4 through Saturday, May 6 in the school’s Little Theatre, 5440 S. State St. Tickets are $3. A free pre-show, featuring improv comedy, sonnets and selections from Shakespeare’s works will begin at 6 p.m.
Senior Nick Ashton will play Macbeth and junior Meg McKellar will portray Lady Macbeth. The role of Duncan will be performed by senior Randyr Jasra Lords and Malcolm will be played by senior Jordan Evans. Senior Benjamin Stanform is Banquo and senior Truman Schipper is Macduff. The First Witch is junior Catherine Bonham, Second Witch junior Rebecca Smith and Third Witch senior Klarissa Woodmansee.
“This is our 11th year doing an annual Shakespeare piece,” Murray High theatre director Will Saxton said. “We want to challenge students and have them explore as many opportunities as possible. We want our students to graduate with experience in musical, modern, classical, American, technical and Shakespearean theatre.”
The show, however, is set in modern times.
“We never do traditional Shakespeare. We want to challenge the idea of what Macbeth is about and believe he is in insane and placed in an asylum,” Saxton said.
He said that students who are royalty and soldiers appear as patients; servants and messengers are orderlies; and witches and fantasy characters dress as doctors at the SCOT or the Specialized Care Open Treatment asylum. Each ward represents differing parts of the play from the Scottish to the English to the Norwegians.
In the play, Scottish General Macbeth learns from a trio of witches that one day he will become king. Inspired by this and spurred to action of his wife, Macbeth murders King Duncan to take the throne. However, he feels guilty and becomes paranoid. To protect himself from suspicion, he commits more murders, which ultimately leads to a civil war and his demise.
“We see Macbeth fantasizing about the dagger and while he does murder Banquo, he sees ghosts so he is hallucinating. Based on the way he acts, he is insane, but it is Lady Macbeth who instigates it all,” Saxton said.
Students auditioned for their parts in December, but it wasn’t until after their New York spring break trip when they began rehearsals.
Saxton believes it’s critical for his theatre students to experience Shakespeare.
“Shakespeare is not meant to be read, but to be spoken and read. He didn’t think of his work as literature, but plays and considered himself to be a playwright. He was always at the theatre when his plays were put on and could revise it at a rehearsal if it didn’t go right.
“We want our students to learn from doing Shakespeare. If we didn’t include it, it would be like teaching math to students, but not having them do calculus because it’s too hard. Our role as teachers is to have students learn more. So, by exposing students to Shakespeare now, they can learn more and gain a better understanding and appreciation of his work,” he said.
Following “Macbeth,” advanced theatre students will direct one-act plays where they will choose the plays, cast, scenery, props and costumes as well as perform in one another’s shows as part of their final class exams.
The shows vary from “weird, hilarious, strangely directed, full-length shows cut to a portion, no-dialogue” plays, Saxton said.
“It’s a chance for our students to make all the decisions and gain that insight as a director. It’s a big task, and I love seeing what everyone comes up with. Some students surprise me with their understanding and so many are capable of doing exceptional jobs,” he said.
Saxton said there will be about 18 one-act plays, so students will present six per night. They will be shown at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 18 through Saturday, May 20 at the Little Theatre. Tickets are $3.