1st February 2023
Writing: Edward Newhams (Year 11)
Photography: Jacob Morgan (Year 11)
Editing: Shubhan Selvaranjan (Year 12)
On Wednesday afternoon, Year 11 readily welcomed a respite from their GCSE studies (however fleeting it may have been) in the form of a one hour rendition of ‘Macbeth’, a noted Shakespearean classic.
One may well consider the purpose of the production quite obvious; namely, to pry whatever vestige of a memory a typical Year 11 student would have of a play they have not studied for 8 months. This, of course, is almost 8 months longer than the typical memory span of said Year 11 student. Yet, the actors involved had another aim - to imbue the masses of Year 11 with alternative interpretations of the play; I know not how successfully the average Year 11 would have been stimulated by these ideas surrounding systemic, societal faults dooming Macbeth more than his ambition or violence are certainly fringe discursive contributions, but I believe they are too readily dismissed and, in fact, have some validity.
But, in case abstract thematic discussions bore you, I shall return to the specifics of the production. Given just one hour to perform, the actors had to be ruthless in peeling away unnecessary detail. I do commend the actors for being quite judicious in selecting the extracts that are most important to know - the numerous soliloquies of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, for example. Worst of all, they had to climb the mountain that is the task of engaging a crowd of Year 11s in a Shakespearean play - and climb said mountain they did, helped along by copious amounts of direct audience participation.
The play was immediately succeeded by a workshop of sorts, on the theme of kingship. This was an engaging section, but I felt they were too readily acceptive of Shakespeare’s views on the divine right of kings; was Duncan really a king so great that “his virtues… plead like angels” or was he essentially a vacuous rock, allegedly appointed by a so-called ‘God’, whose only purpose in life was to wear a flamboyant hat and to sit on an ostentatious chair, until he died, all the while commanding blind fealty and undying sympathy from the ignorant masses he deliberately oppressed? But he was absolutely a great king, according to the actors!
Overall, the actors involved put on an impressive performance and an engaging workshop afterwards… but perhaps the ideas of a play that marks its 400th anniversary in 2023 should be regarded as just that - centuries out of date.