Macbeth (York Shakespeare Project, 26/10/2021-30/10/2021)
“I have supped full with horrors;
Direness familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me.”
This was my Covid show; the show that was to open in one week, when the first lockdown began. To have finished it is a strange feeling - not least because, at long last, it felt like a show where I truly found 'my' directorial style.
This was a Macbeth of strange bargains and vast forces beyond mortal understanding. Drawing on cyberpunk and cosmic horror, it showed its characters in an uncertain world, desperately seeking something to fill the void of moral certainty left by the increasingly nihilistic Macbeth.
“a dystopian, dizzying future.”
Working with a community company allowed unique insights, from the consultant psychiatrist to the academic specialists in early modern theatre. I am most proud of Emma Scott's Macbeth - a creature who moved from a terribly vulnerable and uncertain humanity into a certain but isolated monster, embracing their corruption and no longer able to care. The joy of release-from-cares Emma was able to find on "signifying nothing!" was something I hope to remember for a very long time.
Across the cast, we formed a magnificent company, supporting one another to show archetypes - larger than 'real' people, and therefore able to say more sitting strangely in a changed world. Some managed to cling to the light, while others took longer to do more than resign themselves to what was happening.
The audience were surrounded by this shifting world, as you'll see in the pictures below. It created an effect I was delighted by, carefully blocking the show to ensure that there was no 'best seat' - everybody had the same experience of always having something to see, but nobody able to see the whole. It also made it impossible to film well, though I am glad to have captured some of Emma's monologues.
This combination of epic character-scale and a large space to fill - aided by Charley Ipsen's gorgeous design, and Neil Wood's sinister lighting - allowed distancing to become a natural part of the production. The final fight sequences, in which Emma stood centre stage while rivals at the fringes were struck down in nimble, elegant, and striking Noh-like dance steps, are something I was very happy with.
It was a pleasure to return to the York Shakespeare Project again, and an absolute delight to create a Macbeth that was beautiful, and truly felt like 'ours'.
Macbeth - Emma Scott
The Lady - Nell Frampton
Banquo, Siward - Clive Lyons
Fleance, Donalbain, Son, Young Siward - Meredith Stewart
Macduff - Frank Brogan
Duncan, Lady Macduff, Menteith - Elizabeth Elsworth
Malcolm - Rhiannon Griffiths
Lennox - Andrea Mitchell
Ross - Tony Froud
Angus - Sarah-Jane Strong
First Witch, First Murderer, Doctor - Joy Warner
Second Witch, Second Murderer, Gentlewoman - Diana Wyatt
Third Witch, Third Murderer, Caithness, Seyton - Xandra Logan
Director - Leo Doulton
Set and Costume Designer - Charley Ipsen
Lighting Designer - Neil Wood
Sound Designer - Jim Paterson
Dramaturge - Kelsey Ridge
Stage Manager - Ian Frampton
Technical Assistant - Ben Thorburn
Photography - John Saunders
Poster Design - Charles Keusters