4 | 22 |13 ♡
What kind of name is that anyway?
Macbeth (n.)- died in 1057; king of Scotland [1040-57]
Origin: Gaelic, lit. "son of life"
The word "Macbeth" means many different things to me. For one, Shakespeare's trophy egotistical maniac. But I also connote this word with events in my life:
- "Macbeth," is my husband as of last spring when I performed in a Shakespeare production of "Goodbyes" circa 2012 (as I played the valiant and brutal Lady M).
- "Macbeth" also reminds me of that entire era of my life with The Semi-Royal Shakespeare Company, a journey which I soon discovered tested my patience and perseverance to it's limits.
- But, more recently, "Macbeth" reminds me of Alan Cumming -- which makes me think of his twitter bio and I now find myself picturing menacing scottish elves. (<3)
But it is the story of this king that sweeps away the generations of its audience. Macbeth is probably one of my favorite plays, and although I can feel the fire of unoriginality in that statement, one production of Macbeth that I have seen (now, twice) served as the catalyst for that opinion. But first, I'd like to share with you my history and relationship with the play.
In my first ever "real" theater production, our class of 24 girls were thrown into a room and introduced to a Shakespeare director. Naturally, our snobby thirteen- year-old nature got the best of us, and we were impatiently trying to understand why they were making us do this.
Like, what is Shakespeare?
That question echoed in all of our heads. Our theater teacher of the time explained to us that we would be performing in an "8th grade show" that was going to be titled "Shakespeare's Women." Our collective immediate thought: UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
It was time then, to collaboratively choose our roles with our teacher and new director. And, I knew I didn't want a big part. I was really shy back then, terrified of having to memorize any lines and go up and perform them. So I asked for a medium part- and was given Witch #2 in Macbeth.
So either I looked maniacal enough to receive such a part right off the bat, or it was just given out of happenstance, but in any case- that was my first role and introduction to Shakespearian acting. I was perhaps though, more excited to do the bubble bubble toil in trouble thing.
Kudos if you can find me in this photo. The coolest part I'd have to say was that we were doing the three witches as three creepy little girls with bows, blood running down the side of our mouths, and a doll carriage was our cauldron. Yay for lots and lots of creepy children?
Point being, if you had asked me then what the word "Macbeth" meant to me then, I'd say "..... creepy kid witches!"
As my acting career progressed, however, I had a very different opinion after reading the play a few times. And as I did more Shakespeare, the more I wanted to be Lady M, and I was fortunate enough to receive the role. For the sake of addressing it in this post, this is what that looked like:
... real attractive, Alanna.
This role, however, inspired me to actually enjoy the play. I had to unpack Lady M herself, and understand the dynamic between her and Macbeth. I learned to fight for what I wanted in this scene, not just put on a mean mask and play the role.
The play in itself was starting to make its way up to my favorite Shakespeare list. I truly related to and grasped the relationships Shakespeare set forth behind those doors of the Scottish kingdom. Macbeth is not just a story, it is the self-destructing account of a human being. A man, who, despite knowing all his flaws, kept pushing his way up. I once read an article that described Macbeth as one of the most [if not the most] egotistical characters in all of Shakespeare's writing, and it is that deadly sin of vanity that lead to his demise.
Excuse my aggressive tone, for clearly, I've written too many English papers on the topic.
As I've said, there was one production of Macbeth that I have seen (now twice!) that added another dimension to the original adaptation.
And that production, ladies and gentleman, is with Alan Cumming.
A drum, a drum, Macbeth doth come
>>> I love when Alan says that line.......
This production of Macbeth is a one man show- starring Sir Cumming, and is set in a mental institution. I have to say, it is one of the coolest productions I've ever seen in my life. Begun by The National Theater of Scotland, this show first previewed at Lincoln Center over the summer- and as soon as I read about it- I knew I had to get my hands on a ticket.
[Advertised at Lincoln Center, circa July 2012]
I'll be honest here, I was worried. I had only ever seen one other one-man production at The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and I was not a fan. It was long, exhausting for the actor (and the audience) and quite frankly, boring. So I wasn't sure what to expect.
[In the LC Festival Program]
I was excited though.
[Also mainly because LC tweeted at me....]
Contrary to my apprehension and in favor of my excitement, I was happily surprised and absolutely blown away. Alan Cumming is truly an incredible performer, and it is a mind blowing experience to sit and watch him act for an hour and forty-five minutes with no intermission. The effects, lighting, and cues were all on point, and I remember leaving that theater feeling so inspired and content. Never have I ever seen a production that has given me chills like that before.
Naturally, I was even more so ecstatic when I discovered that Macbeth was coming to broadway.
I saw this production of Macbeth for a second time this past Saturday night.
In the Playbill, there is an interview with Alan discussing how he felt after performing the show for weeks this past summer-- at Lincoln Center. He remarked that he felt as if "he'd aged twenty years." The interviewer responded with, then why sign up for another "grueling tour of duty on Broadway?"
He answered, "The reason you want to be an artist is that you want to communicate, to touch people, to make them think or make them laugh." He also remarked previously, "I defy the gods, it's quite exciting" (Macbeth, Playbill)
The crystal clear passion that Alan has for his craft is so inspiring-- and I could honestly go to see that show over and over and over, for although it's the same story- he's able to make it different each performance.
So, to me, "Macbeth" represents my history in acting as well as inspiration for a future theater career, whatever it may be.
I leave you with this:
See this show-it'll leave an incredibly lasting impression, I promise.
"If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me."
[Macbeth 1.3. 147-148]