Welcome friends to the ‘Actors from The London Stage’ blog for this 2015 tour of…Macbeth. There, I’ve said it. Let the curses rain down. Although, at the time of writing this, we are, in fact, six weeks in. That time frame begins on December 17th, our first day of rehearsals in Brixton, London. We met as five actors who had never worked together (at least in theatre, TV, yes once) and were plunged into one of the most intense and demanding creative processes your writer has ever known. And so we all descended into this huge, beautiful, and (as we discovered) very funny play. Every moment was spent solving creative challenges – the battles, the settings, the huge number of characters (there are five of us, remember!) and of course, the supernatural. The ghosts, the visions, the prophecies, and the Weird Sisters. Our set is nothing more than a chalk circle, two chairs, some sticks and some rolls of brown paper (more on that later). The only way to succeed is to be open to the very lovely fact that Shakespeare is the actor’s friend. He was one himself, of course. And he will look after you.
On January 17th we travelled for a straight 20 hours, landing a little stunned at Chicago O’Hare. Rehearsals began a few hours later at Notre Dame. The run of the show the following day by five jet-lagged, frazzled lunatics was a thing to behold. Next morning we went into the University to be set up for our American life.
We look a little bedraggled, no? However, the colour is returning to our cheeks at this very elegant dinner with Scott, Aaron, Grant and the wonderful Debs.
And here is a little film for you taken on our day off. We drove to Lake Michigan not expecting to find this extraordinary Arctic Sea.
A week later we flew to Houston, Texas. This sky saw us through the three-hour car journey to A&M University.
The first performance (no, we still hadn’t opened the show at this stage) loomed. In the days running up we all taught some delightful classes. A challenge for those of us as yet un-blooded as ‘teachers’ and yet a privilege. Highlights included:
Maryam’s students (at Notre Dame), Elinor’s three packed lecture halls. the gorgeous young ladies and gentlemen at Rudder High School, a wonderfully open, funny, and very innovatively nurtured group at Bryan High School, and many exceptionally talented young theatre makers at Texas A&M who were a pleasure to meet and work with. They illuminated the text of Macbeth with hugely natural and utterly unique interpretations which none of us had ever dreamt of.
And finally, here is a picture of Charlie on the afternoon before our opening. He could at least pretend to be looking forward to it!
And yet, a standing ovation.
Next stop Valparaiso!
– Ben Warwick