A tale of love, murder, betrayal and deceit, The Tragedy of Macbeth explores how powerful human emotions, when carefully manipulated, can lead us to perform unfathomable deeds.

Penned in the early 1600’s, Shakespeare’s play about a man who commits regicide to become King based on the prophecy offered by a trio of witches still holds its significance today. Director Samuel Chappel agrees and recalls his first introduction to Shakespeare:”When I first studied Macbeth in High School it captured my imagination and became a catalyst for my continuing passion for Shakespeare. Shakespeare explores, in Macbeth, inherent truths in human nature that still inform our collective thinking today. Themes of greed, ambition and fate which still resound for modern audiences through language crafted centuries ago. Ultimately, I feel, the profound examination of man's continuing psychological battle with his own mortality, encapsulated in Macbeth, is particularly relevant in the modern age. As we continue to struggle with ideas of personal legacy; In an era where what we leave behind seems more important than what we do today.”

This play does, of course, hold a rather superstitious place in the world of the theatre. Dubbed 'The Scottish Play' in reference to the, ahem, curse that surrounds it, it is still capable of enticing actors from all over to audition for it.  Both happenings, it seems, affected Chappel’s audition.  “I was thankfully blessed with a large number of willing and talented actors auditioning,” says Chappel. “However, the old stumbling block in casting community theatre productions plagued me. While we were spoiled for choice in the female department, we were somewhat lacking in eligible male actors. This is particularly problematic in a production as male-centric as Macbeth. However, with a little hard work, and a lot of luck, we've ended up with a highly talented, and genuinely delightful group of people.”

Shakespeare's beautifully crafted language is profound and provocative but can be difficult to interpret. Peter Tedford playing Macbeth comments about the challenge: “ I guess the major challenge most of us face is understanding the text and bringing it and the characters to life in such a way as to convey meaning to audiences, irrespective of their knowledge of the play or affinity with Shakespeare more generally. I have to admit that it took more time than normal for me to commit the script to memory. Either I am just getting too old or it was simply challenging dialogue but I got there in the end.”

Macbeth’s madness is quickly observed by Macduff who has his own set of tragedies to undergo. The character is pivotal to  Macbeth’s ultimate outcome and challenging for any actor.  Marcus Ingleby as Macduff comments: “ Once I'd been cast I did some quick research before the first read through. Out of everything that I read what appealed to me most about Macduff was the idea that he had emotional depth. That Macbeth's feelings about masculinity centre around the exclusion of emotion, feelings and any feminine influence. Macduff on the other hand embraces those as an essential part of who he is. Whether I can portray any of that on stage remains to be seen!”

Both Tedford and Ingleby appreciate what Chappel brings to his role as director.  Both agree that Chappel is a “fearless Director’ who brings passion, maturity, insight and intellect to his role. Chappel is clearly someone who knows what he wants as a Director and says: “I hope we've stayed true to Shakespeare's intent. Though knowing what that intent really is can be difficult with plays written over 400 years ago. The hope was to keep distractions to a minimum, to try and avoid modern interpretations, so that we could focus on the language, which I feel is the most important thing when it comes to Shakespeare.”

Ultimately, Chappel’s ambition is to ensure the audience has a new or greater appreciation for Shakespeare's work.  He acknowledges that Macbeth is a truly profound bit of writing and states:” Hopefully we've put together a production that reveals this, at least to some extent, for the audience. More than that, I hope the audience will leave the theatre having had a good time. That's the plan anyway…”

Macbeth plays at Hartwell Players, Ashwood Performing Arts Centre, Ashwood College, Vannam Drive, Ashwood (off High Street Road) Melway ref: 60 J10
April 13 – 28
http://hartwellplayers.org.au/Plays/Macbeth

 

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