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James Evans
Bell Shakespeare Educator 21st October

I loved the concept of Macbeth possibly heading down two different paths - the
good very narrow and the bad starting out looking rosy and then converting to
horror. The 'what if' element of the world is vital as it really helps spark
students' imagination and is a good leaping-off point for deeper discussions
and practical exercises in the classroom.

Another section that particularly intrigued me was the theatrical
'performance' space - acknowledgement that this is a play we are dealing with
and that we can interpret it in many different ways.

Now, this ties in directly with what the (NSW) Board of Studies is trying to
do with Shakespeare on the syllabus. Students are encouraged to come up with
their own theatrical ideas and interpretations of HOW they would display the
themes, ideas and power structures within a play.

So what I'd love to see is this space developed even further, with options for
lighting, props, costume, casting, staging etc etc etc so that students could
experiment and their ideas could be accommodated and played out in the virtual

Bell Shakespeare 20th October

has theatricality and theatrical illusion
creating a performance with different emotions using the text - most excites M
Kerreen's voice crying, creating moments, using theatre techniques
tension - obliqueness? linked to source material

How will people inter-act? It feels very much a solo journey experience
What about the text? How much is stand alone and how much a launching pad to take you away from the play?

See potential for creating performances
And coming back again and again and finding new things, having different experiences every time

Saturday August 30th

- would high school students be able to understand the deeper, abstract ideas?
- how soon can teachers hope to be able to test it with students and how would they get into the teen grid? (at least four teachers would love to take their classes into this space in 2009)
- is it possible to have more thunder and lightning effects?

Student Responses, Group A:

Initial feelings - looks modern and stark, appropriations of Stonehenge, remorseful site, imagery is incongruous/unexpected, would have liked a more authentic/contextual environment, confronting

First aware of - darkness, sombre atmosphere, broken, ruins, overstimulated by environment
Imaginings - desert landscape and night conjures up feelings of disorientation

Lines - 'a drum, a drum, Macbeth doth come'
'horror, horror'
'unsex me here, make thick my blood' - male voice
'by the pricking of my thumbs something wicked this way doth come'
'a tale told by an idiot...'
Chosen? Randomness, confronting, attention, overview

Sounds - the drum, jingling bells, howling wind, whispers

Phrases floating - ghostly, whispy, mirror the lines spoken

An effective entry point - thought-provoking, confronting

What else? Lightning and rain, street signs and a welcome to horror

The Head...

Macbeth's emotional journey - ambiguous in this space, reflects his confusion, misguidedness by forces greater than himself (evil?), reflects that it is the witch's malevolent influence that spurs his ambition and leads to ever increasing evil - spiralling out of control

Student Responses, Group B:

You feel an overwhelming sense of dark foreboding on entry.
You notice ruins, darkness and sombre gothic mood.

By the pricking of my thumbs/something wicked this way comes/a drum, a drum/Macbeth doth come/
unsex me here/make thick my blood/horror, horror/it is a tale told by an idiot/full of sound and fury/signifying nothing

Building atmosphere, setting the scene, introducing concept of unknown doom lurking and anticipation of what is to come.

Sounds: toll of bells; baby crying; wind; orchestrated music; lapping of water

Words floating: Horror horror; wicked; foul is fair; unsex me here

The entry space instantly sets the dark tone of the impending story.
The voices of the characters, whilst deliberately not being able to see or identify the characters visually, allows the participants to gauge snippets of what is to come.

Student Responses, Group C:

The Arrival Grove (a prologue to the literary world)

  • what do you feel as soon as you are inside this space?

The space is atmospheric and dark, which alludes to the themes of the play. The different icons open up different spaces that are equally 'scary' and thought provoking. Each space includes relevant items and imagery,

  • what do you notice first? what do you think the imagery is designed to conjure in your imaginations?
The bare ground and ruins including broken pillars are the first things that are noticeable, the colour is important in suggesting loneliness. The dead tree adds an element of 'horror'.
  • what lines from Macbeth can you hear?
'Horror! Horror!', 'Unsex me here and thick my blood', 'A drum, a drum, Macbeth doth come', 'Something wicked this way comes',
  • why do you think these lines were chosen for the arrival grove?
The lines are spoken by a variety of characters, male and female, young and old. They present some of the most important scenes and ideas brought up in the play.
  • what other sounds can you hear as you walk around the arrival grove?
Whilst navigating, a baby crying and the wind blowing can be heard as well as music and unpleasant laughing.
  • what words or phrases do you see floating through the air?
Some of the words that can be seen floating through the air include; 'Foul is fair', 'Unsex me here', 'Horror!', 'wicked' and 'Macbeth'.

  • how well do you think this space works as an entry point to the island and the literary world of Macbeth?

  • what else would you like to see here in this space?