The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0657  Tuesday, 5 March 2002

From:           Tony Haigh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Monday, 04 Mar 2002 14:17:31 -0500
Subject: 13.0629 Digital Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0629 Digital Macbeth

In response to John's comment of the Louisville Macbeth, I have to say
that it is "interesting."  There is a slight reservation there, but all
in all I'd say this was a worthwhile production.  There were a number of
things going on - first, three actors.  This I thought a reasonable
device and placed the character of Macbeth at the very center of
events.  All the parts were doubled/tripled, but the actor who played
Macbeth less so.  The action tended to swirl about him. The other
characters were effectively achieved through changes in vocal and
physical registers and by the use of masks.  The masks were all on stage
all the time which gave a kind of cemetery feel to the production.  The
color signature for both costumes and masks was white/beige.  The
costume style was very influenced by Kabuki - which was echoed in the
use of masks and the movement rhythms used by the actors.  Add to the
Kabuki stylization, the use of masks and the self imposed limitations of
three actors a very modern music track and a strident post-modernism
dominates this production.  I have a feeling that this might have been
enough.  The layering of high-tech, computer driven imagery was perhaps
a step too far.  The set was made up of projection screens, high tech
equipment, cameras and technical ninjas.  The effect was a cross between
"Alien" and "Dr Who."  Even the bodies of the actors became surfaces on
which to project.  This offered some interesting moments when the
talking head of the inner monologue was projected onto the actor.  There
were also some silly moments - when the witches stood at a Tardis like
console that came out on the floor (all flashing lights and electronic
music), or the eight naked baby puppets in the Apparition scene, or the
huge video screen that went to "white noise" whenever anyone died.

I have to say that my daughter loved it.  Strangely, my main criticism
was with the verse speaking.  In the end it all comes down to the
ability of the human voice to tell the story.  With Shakespeare the
verse is his high-tech tool.  When the story is not being told by the
actors, all the high tech, Kabuki, minimalist techniques in the world is
of little help.

Tony Haigh

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