Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank

Macbeth

Text in Performance

How have you been working on space with the cast of this production of Macbeth?

I have had the cast playing games in order to learn about the space. One exercise involved getting the actors to try and find as many shapes as possible within the space; I asked them to find as many geometric shapes as they could within the stage, and walk around using the entrances and the exits as well as the stage itself, and then we discussed what they’d come up with. Everybody found that the figure of 8 around the pillars or around the centre of the stage works very well because you can bring in everybody in the audience from all sides of the theatre. Circles within the pillars and outside of the pillars work very well too, and triangles. Two triangles made into a star, those points of that star are very good angles to work with when performing with a partner, so you can start to work with the actors in the scene using those points of the star as it were and giving yourself and your partner those wide angles to work on.

We’ve also been looking at balancing on stage- what I mean by that is how do you use the stage in order to bring in all the audience so that they’re all aware of seeing you, of seeing the people you’re playing with. And then we’ve looked at how you can change what you’re doing but still keep the balance, so that your movements correspond with or compliment what other actors are doing.

For instance, if I’m downstage on the part of the stage that’s closest to the groundlings at the front, then I’ve got my back to the groundlings and the person I’m working with is upstage and at an angle from me. If at any moment I then want to change my position, say if I want to come upstage and turn to face the people that I’ve had my back to for a while, it would be my partner’s obligation to then move downstage and balance the stage in that way. This just means that you’re not stagnant all the time on the stage; that you’re moving round. It’s really about awareness; about the awareness of the possible shapes that you’re making as you’re working in order to get the most for yourself as a performer and for the audience to get the most of the story.

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