Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank

Macbeth

Text in Performance

Does the Globe space put any unique demands on the actor and the text in Macbeth that other theatres perhaps don’t?

Because it was written specifically for a theatre like the Globe then I would say that this play really fits the space. It’s full of soliloquies; Macbeth spends most of the time speaking directly to the audience, as does Lady Macbeth, so in that way the space is perfect for the play. When those actors come out they are not just talking into mid-air, they’re facing their audience and individually speaking to them, straight to their faces, and saying ‘This is what’s happening to me’, which I find interesting.

When I saw the first performance of it the other day, to a theatre full of students, I wondered how the play was going to go down with them because of the soliloquies. I shouldn’t have worried though; they were completely engaged because they were being spoken to by the actors on the stage. I think it would have been slightly different if the lights had been down and they were just looking at lit actors on the stage, talking to space.

There’s a moment, after the apparitions and the witches vanish for the second time, when Jimmy [James Garnon, playing Macbeth] turned to the audience as he asked, ‘Are they gone?’ and a significant portion of the yard actually answered, ‘Yes!’ Another line I thought worked brilliantly was when Jimmy turned round at the party, at the great feast when he sees the ghost of Banquo, and delivered the line ‘You have made me mad’ directly to the audience, as if he’s saying to them, ‘This is you, you are making me mad, it’s your fault’. It was if they were part of the guests at the great feast. That worked really, really well, whereas perhaps in a different building it wouldn’t, and so in that way I would say that it lends itself to the space brilliantly.

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