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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Team of five to reimagine Macbeth on Rudder stage

The Actors from the London Stage will return to Texas A&M Thursday to perform one of Shakespeare’s most tragic plays, “Macbeth,” or in theatre terms, The Scottish Play.
Michael Greenwald, professor in theatre arts, said referring to the play as Macbeth is considered very bad luck.
“Some Brits just call him ‘Old Harry’ too,” Greenwald said. “There’s a lot of fascinating stories about Macbeth, you know it deals with witchcraft and the occult. There’s stories of seeing a fourth witch on stage, people getting hurt doing it, it’s really kind of fascinating in itself.”
Greenwald said “Macbeth” is one of Shakespeare’s most intriguing plays as well as the shortest. He said he is intrigued to see how the Actors, a group of only five performers, will stage the production.
“They can only use in terms of costumes and props what they can fit in a suitcase to bring over here,” Greenwald said. “To watch five actors play these huge roles and even these small roles and constantly shifting, is some of the most rewarding theatre I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a real challenge for the actor, but it’s what they love.”
Because the Actors from the London Stage consist of three men and two women, it’s very likely audiences will see the actors playing more than one role during the production. Laura Estill, assistant professor in the Department of English, said this gives the audience a new perspective on the play.
“As soon as you have one actor play two characters, you have to ask, ‘How are these characters similar?’ and, ‘How are these characters different?’” Estill said. “The practice of having one actor play two roles is called doubling, and the London Actors take that to the extreme.”
Estill, an editor of the World Shakespeare Bibliography, said Shakespeare wrote “Macbeth” at the height of his career and could have been influenced by James VI of Scotland taking the English throne and becoming King James I of England after Queen Elizabeth I’s death.
“Macbeth is a tale of revenge and greed and lust for power,” Estill said. “It’s set in Scotland, a fictitious historical period in Scotland, but it’s still not considered a history play. To be considered a history play for Shakespeare, it has to be set in England in the medieval past, as opposed to this distant Scottish past.”
Dan Martinez, leadership senior and acting chair of the Aggie Screenwriting Acting and Production Club, said Macbeth would be an interesting role to play because the character kills his king for power, then kills his friend out of fear of losing that power and deals with guilt throughout most of the play.
“I actually got to see the London actors last year,” Martinez said. “They did a spectacular job and they only had five actors there as well. I don’t think that just five people are going to limit the performance of it, because there’s so much liberties you can take.”
Greenwald said the complexity of Macbeth adds to the play.
“He knows what he’s doing, he knows he’s literally playing with fire and by fire I mean Hell,” Greenwald said. “To kill anybody is bad, but to kill a king — they said a king was the ultimate act of sacrilege, because who puts the king on the throne? God. So to kill a king was, in a sense, to lash out on God himself.”
Estill says the campus is fortunate to have the Actors from the London Stage come to College Station to portray Macbeth and other characters.
“I’m really looking forward to this production,” Estill said. “Despite the fact that the play is cursed, it’s actually a blessing for us to have the actors coming.”
The performance is at 7 p.m. Thursday in Rudder Theatre. Tickets are $5 per student and $10 general admission.

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