12th - 14th July 2018
Writing: Elliot Sweeney (Year 10)
Recording: Max O'Brien, Cameron Robey (Year 12), Luke Amos and Ollie Ensor (Year 10)
Editing: Cameron Robey (Year 12)
A director, a script, 40 enthusiastic young actors and over a hundred hours of rehearsals later and the school’s annual summer play was born.
When we first discovered the week before half term that not only was the play going to be the infamous Macbeth but that it would also be performed in Shakespeare’s rather difficult language, many cast members were… intrigued. I for one knew it was going to require focus and commitment, and even more so when I got a major role.
The rehearsal process really began in earnest straight after the half term holiday, and so too did line learning, yet most of us discovered to our surprise that the weird language actually made lines more memorable. But we of course kept this secret and continued to boast about how difficult the Shakespearean verses were to learn.
Logically, we tackled the play in chronological order, which had a huge impact on our acting. Many of the characters in Macbeth evolve throughout the performance, especially Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Yet as we delved into the later scenes, I began to appreciate how much the show relies on teamwork and the myriad other actors, especially the Year 8s who were crucial to the overall atmosphere of scenes. There is a large banquet scene, and without the Year 8s to not only assemble the entire set of tables, chairs, candles and goblets but also play the essential waiters and servants, the scene would have fallen flat on its face. Even the more subtle Year 10 roles such as First Murderer were paramount to the show’s success in numerous scenes.
After many weeks of the 2 hour after school rehearsals, the full Saturday hit us hard. In the long string of shorter rehearsals leading up to it, with the individual scenes going well and everything seemingly running smoothly, I knew we had become a little overconfident that the play was going to be perfect.
On the Saturday, we first got a taste of the real performance conditions - costumes, props, lights, sound, no watching the football in between scenes, no individual scene runs and worst of all no scripts. While the single scenes and acting were good, linking them together was proving no small feat.
After that Saturday, the cast worked much harder and the show got more and more refined. We started to add embellishments to our acting - an extra gesture here, and a dash of symbolic blood there - and I could really feel the play coming together.
And then it was time.
With nerves on edge but excitement bubbling, the scenes rolled by - the witches' scenes, Banquo and Macbeth, the dagger soliloquy, the interval, war scenes, my death - and then that was it. It had gone so fast, but it had been so enjoyable. Everyone backstage was grinning, and there is no better feeling than a performance well delivered.
The Friday went smoothly as well, and I could sense that we were all beginning to get more into it. Although Thursday was good, we were all strung out on nerves, and Friday’s performance just felt that little bit better (despite some small technical glitches - don’t tell anyone I said that).
Saturday too felt like an outstanding performance, and I think we were by far the most comfortable with our characters, despite the smaller audience. And then it was over. I felt exhilarated, proud, and united with my fellow actors, but actually a little bit wistful - I had thoroughly enjoyed playing my character, and knew I would miss such a thrilling feeling of being on stage.
Ultimately, this year’s summer play was truly unforgettable, hopefully for both the cast and the audience, and great thanks goes to Mr Millar for directing, Mr Stephenson and Mr Roy for helping and the cast and crew for such an amazing show.