This week a brand-new production of MACBETH is performing at the ADC Theatre. We spoke to the show's Director, SEB BRINDLE, about what you can expect.
Macbeth is one of the most performed tragedies of all time. How are you planning to approach the show?
For this production of Macbeth, we have employed the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic Scotland. However, rather than using that as a springboard merely for the aesthetics of the production, we have used it to help actors grapple with some of the murkier motivations underlying their characters. By examining the play text through the lens of canonical post-apocalyptic literature, we have realised that themes such as the degradation of moral law, a retreat into family units, an acquiescent belief in the supernatural as well as an unnatural emphasis on male lineage are common to both Holinshed’s Macbeth and our interpretation of Shakespeare’s.
Do you see Macbeth as a sympathetic character?
Ultimately, for a tragedy to elicit appropriate responses from audience members, the protagonist must be in some way sympathetic. However, rather than change the characterisation of Macbeth, we have instead focused on Macduff and his revenge. The ending of our production in particular is a radical example of this, and I have no doubt that in that context, the titular character will be seen as a figure of sympathy.
How has the need to socially distance your performers affected the show?
Social distancing has resulted in a radical reinterpretation of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s relationship. Often, it is a relationship in which sexuality plays a coercive role, and as a result of social distancing this is not the case in our production. I believe our Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are more physically isolated and desperate, rather than being hell-bent on power and ambition.
We have also had to reassess how to stage fight scenes. Our fight choreographer Jack Medlin has been amazing in this department, helping us with some extended swordfights towards the climax of the play.
Without spoiling too much, what is your favourite part of the show?
The supernatural elements have been the most challenging and enjoyable aspects of this show. Not only do we have to convincingly stage the appearance of a ghost, but we have the added weight of the appearance of the ghost being in one of the most famous dramatic scenes of all time. Finding a way to situate the audience both within Macbeth’s psyche (in terms of seeing the ghost) and also aligning them with what the other characters in the scene see, has been one of the most exciting obstacles we’ve faced during the rehearsal process. The solution we’ve arrived at is definitely one of my favourite moments of the show!