Young Shakespeare Company breathe new life into Macbeth

On Monday 18 March, the Fifth Year gathered in the unusual venue of the Orchard Hall to participate in a Macbeth workshop run by the Young Shakespeare Company. 

This informative and engaging session was followed by an abridged performance of the play, one of the students’ core IGCSE Literature texts. Students found the entire experience interesting and useful, with exercises like ‘the clapping game’ encouraging them to consider characters and themes in different ways. 

The actors chose to present the witches as innocent, dead children – a harrowing, yet effective, decision, not least because many of our students thought the witches could only be portrayed as old hags. The way in which the theatre group incorporated alarums was helpful in understanding stagecraft and tension, and there was a detailed discussion about the emotional repression of the Macbeths, which developed the students’ appreciation of the subtleties and nuances of the characters. 

Other highlights included how to depict stage-fighting in a realistic manner, as well as more poignant interpretations of Lady Macbeth losing her baby. The question on several students’ lips at the end of the performance was how the actors managed to create such an authentic sound for Macbeth’s neck being snapped; the secret, it turned out, was as simple as the actor crunching on a polo with immaculate timing!

Nik Waight, Head of English

18 March 2019

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