‘Macbeth’ sets stage for discussion
It seems there is always a woman behind a man’s illicit behavior — at least that was the opinion of most of the Charlotte High School students who attended Asolo Theater’s production of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” on Tuesday.
After the performance, the six-actor-cast held a group discussion with the students. When the actors asked whose fault it was that everyone died, the majority of students pinned the blame on the strong and remorseless influence of Lady Macbeth.
“In my opinion, Macbeth would have eventually killed (King Duncan) whether I was there or not,” said Brittany Proia, who portrayed Lady Macbeth. “He committed the murders on his own free will — I might have just sped up the process a little.”
After Macbeth learns he is destined to become king of Scotland, his ambition becomes the object of obsession, leading him into a world of evil, deceit and murder. The play was adapted specifically for educational performances and condensed to 45 minutes. It was also performed on an empty stage with only a few chairs as props.
In one memorable scene, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth begin knocking down the chairs, but the reasoning behind the act is somewhat of a mystery.
“I love asking the audience about the chair scene,” said Brendan Ragan, who played McDuff and Fleance. “Some people think it’s foreplay, others think the characters are angry, many think it’s a metaphor for sex. The answer is — it’s all of it.”
Ragan said that in the original script, Shakespeare gives clues that the couple lost a child right before the play starts. When Macbeth arrives back from the war, the two are talking in the nursery and playfully knocking down toys as a way to celebrate each other; however, when the play is condensed the audience only sees them knocking down chairs.
“Today one kid said he thought the chairs represented the members of the court being knocked down one by one, and that response kind of blew me away,” said Ragan. “He must have been familiar with the play, but still, it was very insightful.”
While some students had studied Macbeth in class, others saw the play for the first time.
“I’ve never heard of ‘Macbeth’ before, but when I watched it I was able to understand the whole storyline, and it was amazing,” said Katie Bollmer, a drama student at CHS.
The production is part of an actor training program at Asolo Conservatory, which functions under Florida State University. Each actor in the play will eventually obtain a master’s degree in fine arts. Only 12 students are chosen each year out of thousands who audition nationwide.
As part of the course, those graduate students are separated into two teams and spend two months touring around the state and performing at various venues.
The college program puts an acting career in perspective for Charlotte County students enrolled in the drama program. At CHS, more than 185 students take drama, with an additional 70 participating in the after-school thespian program.
“(Seeing the play) gives a purpose for our drama program because it shows these kids that have such a passion for drama that being an actor is possible,” said Cheryl Waal, drama teacher at CHS. “These people come in here and they are happy and talented. They’re doing what they love, and I really like that the kids can see that.”
The play also was performed at Port Charlotte High School and Lemon Bay High School.