Weather report

 
When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

September Clouds in Cotton Park, 2011

These are the opening words of Macbeth, spoken by a witch.  The idea strikes terror in the heart of a producer of an outdoor performance.

Performance nights are September 6-8 and 13-15, and it is hurricane season on the eastern seaboard. While few hurricanes have hit Prince Edward Island directly, Juan, the most severe in decades, touched down on September 29, 2003.  Irene sent a day of heavy rain followed by a day of high winds to the Maritimes on August 28 and 29 last year; I know, I was driving my motorcycle through it!

We have made allowances for thunder, lightning or a hurricane.   We have scheduled two “storm dates” on the Sundays, September 9 and 16.  Should a show be cancelled, there will be posts on this blog and announcements on local radio stations.   In case of light rain, wear rain gear and waterproof shoes. We will not be cancelling a show for rain alone. But pity the poor costume crew who will be drying and cleaning costumes before the next show!

 

In the next scene, two witches offer winds to the other, to lay a curse upon a sailor, but the first witch replies: “I myself have all the other, And the very ports they blow, All the quarters that they know….Though his bark cannot be lost, Yet it shall be tempest-tost.

Wind is a fact of life on PEI, so there will be no cancellations for wind alone. The actors are already aware that they have to use their “outdoor voices” for this show and speak over inattentive audience members (surely not!), traffic noise (this is an urban park), or the wind.  The director has also ensured that characters will be heard, by casting Docents who will lead the audience to positions where they will be best able to see the action and hear the play.

 

How has the weather been to us so far?  Only one rehearsal has been rained out: our first, the walk through, on June 9, which was supposed to be an aid to  set, costume and props teams – not to mention the actors – of what to expect in staging this outdoor show.  Since then, to the consternation of farmers and the joy of tourists and beach goers – PEI has had a drought.  So every rehearsal has been on-site in Cotton Park.  We have back-up locations reserved in case we have to move indoors, but so far have only used them that one time.  Please do not invoke the Island curse, by saying, “we’re going to pay for this.”

“It will be rain to-night,”  is Banquo’s last line, before he is assaulted and (plot spoiler…) murdered.  It  is not one of Shakespeare’s more memorable lines, but surely often quoted.

Just not on show nights, please.

 

Thanks to Shannon and Richard for suggesting quotes.

Written by Bunty, the producer.

T-shirts anyone?

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Help us advertise Macbeth in Cotton Park, Stratford.

ACT (a community theatre) often has T-shirts printed of its shows. Why?  First, they’re great souvenirs for cast and crew.  Second, if the producer does it early enough, they are effective mobile advertising posters.  The director and producer encourage those who have them to wear them as often as they can, and show them off to friends and the curious.  Third, a producer can make a tiny bit of extra money for the show.

If you look at an earlier posting on this blog, you will find the poster we will be using for advertising Macbeth. Our talented graphic designer, Christina, took the poster and adapted it for three colour printing on black apparel. The result is what you see here, though the green type in the lower right will be a brighter green. We will be ordering short sleeved T-shirts, long-sleeved T-shirts and sweatshirts.

To ensure a commitment to paying for the shirt when it comes in, we ask for a $10 deposit.  The final cost of the shirts will be, respectively, in the range of $12, $15 and $20.  We round the price up to the nearest dollar and the spare change goes into the production’s revenue.

This time we will be ordering a few extra T-shirts in a range of sizes for sale to the general public.  Are you interested?  If so, but want to guarantee a shirt of the type and in the size you want, you have to act fast.  The size charts are below. Women’s T shirts have a narrower sleeve and a shorter length but are the same width under the arms.

To pre-order a shirt, just post a comment on the blog by midnight Sunday, July 22, and I’ll get back in touch with you on Monday morning.

Sweatshirt  Small Med Large XL 2X 3x

Width          20      22    24      26  28 30

Length         26      27    28      29  30 31

Sleeve         33      34    35      36  37 38

T-shirt or LongSleevedT 

          S M L XL 2X 3X 4X 5X

Width 18 20 22 24 26 28 30 32

Length 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35

How to generate an early buzz

30 some readers formed a huge circle

Stratford Town Hall reading of Macbeth, February 2012

How to generate early buzz…

ACT (a community theatre) often offers its members and the general public a venue for reading a play.  We’ve held them in the back room of a pub, and around a table in the local volunteer centre, among other places.  The people who attend take turns playing a role, and the moderator switches the readers and roles every so often to keep it interesting for everyone.

Early on, we decided to stage an open reading of Macbeth – seven (7) months before the show and six (6) weeks before auditions were planned. The Town of Stratford allowed us to use its largest meeting room, and we advertised the reading in social media and listed it in the local arts and entertainment newspaper, The Buzz www.buzzon.com/

About 35 people attended, many of whom would later audition – even though the reading was not an audition. Before the reading started, we took memberships in ACT (not a requirement of attending), collected names and emails, and handed out copies of the revised script.   We set the room up into a huge circle of tables and chairs. To start the evening, the producer explained the timing and venue of the upcoming production (see the ABOUT page of this blog), the director introduced the changes he had made to the play to suit the outdoor venue, and two professors from the University of Prince Edward Island spoke about Macbeth and the reading of Shakespeare’s texts.

The reading allowed the director to gauge how long it would take to present the revised text, and it allowed the production team to get contact information, not just for auditions but for other volunteer tasks.

A great time was had by all, and folks willingly pitched in to reset the room as we had found it.

Director, Terry Pratt, explains changes to the script and characters

Listening to the Director as he explains changes to the script

Selected photos from the reading by Deborah Mutch are viewable on ACT’s facebook page: ACT (a community theatre)

Macbeth at the Movies

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The best way to see any of Shakespeare’s play is, of course, in the theatre – even if that theatre is a park in PEI.  But film makes the plays accessible to a wider audience, which is not a bad thing.  Keep in mind that, in the first weekend of the release of Laurence Olivier’s film Richard III, more people saw that film than had EVER seen the play on stage in the 350 years before.

 

 

 

Macbeth has not been a favourite for the big screen, at least not compared to the multiple versions of Hamlet or Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Orson Welles produced, directed, and starred in his own production in 1948: the high point was the exciting and sudden advance of Birnam Wood – the low point was disastrous Scottish accents.  Welles had also directed a remarkable all black cast in a Haitian “Voodoo” Macbeth with the Mercury Theatre in 1936 (some of which had been recovered and can be seen on YouTube).  Roman Polanski directed his version soon after his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by the Manson family, and the result is a version even darker than Shakespeare’s dark play.

 

 

 

On the small screen, though, some remarkable theatrical performances have been captured for posterity.  Ian McKellan and Judy Dench are still my favorite Macbeths, in a wonderfully pared down and psychological version directed by Trevor Nunn for the Royal Shakespeare Company.  More recently, and just out on DVD, is Patrick Stewart’s terrifying Stalin-like dictator: and for a man in his 70’s, Stewart is amazingly fit.  (The Weird Sisters – the witches – in this performance, by the way, are nurses, a terrifying twist.)

 

 

 

But some of the best things to watch are adaptations of Macbeth: a mobster remake in Men of Respect, James MacAvoy’s Macbeth as ambitious chef in Shakespeare Retold, Sam Worthington’s drug-addled nightclub Macbeth, and Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai Macbeth in Throne of Blood.  And when you’re tired of all the blood and death, try the parody version from The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of Shakespeare: Abridged.  (Many of these are available at That’s Entertainment!)

 

Contributed by Shannon Murray, publicist for ACT’s 2012 production of Macbeth in Stratford PEI.