Macbeth rehearsal update, going into Thanksgiving week! (Check out that sweet new graphic above by Nick Ferran…)
After a month of work, we’ve finally finished blocking rehearsals, where we determine where and when everyone moves both on and off stage. Some of the trickiest bits to figure out include when we’re moving props onstage, like, our two sections of a table that come in two separate doors to meet in the middle, or when we have to determine who will move the long benches that serve as our main set pieces.
The most difficult scene to block was almost certainly the banquet scene where Banquo’s ghost appears to Macbeth. SUCH a cool scene, but it was a struggle block for a number of technical reasons, such as Macbeth’s line in the text that the table is full. Did that mean that Banquo was already sitting there in his chair? If so, why doesn’t Macbeth see him when he first turns around? We ended up having to re-block that scene three or four times, just because we weren’t satisfied with how it was playing out. We solved our issues by rearranging the seating at the table, trying new entrances and exits for Banquo, and adding a few other key characters into the scene despite those characters not being present in this scene in the text. But now, we’re finally all pleased with how that scene is shaping up.
One semi-sad update is that, unlike our previous four shows, we won’t be using masks for this production. We try a new method of making masks for every new show, and this time, we were attempting to print our masks with a 3D printer. However, due to technological issues beyond our control, the mask-making process had to restart a number of times. Now with just two weeks until opening night, if we can get the masks finished, our actors still won’t have enough time to get used to incorporating that physicality into their performance.
Why can’t we just stick the masks on their faces and call it a day, you might ask? Does it really change much of what the actors do onstage? Well, yes. The purpose of the mask work is to inform our actors’ physical choices - how fast or slow they walk, what shapes they make with their bodies, their movement centers, and more. All of those physical aspects of the character come from the physical features and shapes of the mask. This isn’t a problem when we have plenty of time to incorporate the masks into the rehearsal process and when the actors have a chance to get use to their new physicalities, but since we only have two rehearsals left before tech, we didn’t feel like we would be doing the masks justice if we threw them in last-minute.
The BRIGHT side of this is that we all feel that we ALREADY have a strong show, even without the masks. Learning that the top halves of our faces will be visible will change a few elements of our performances, and we have a bit of doubling to work out now - but that being said, we are confident in the world we’ve built and we can’t wait to share it with you, bare faces and all.
Due to Thanksgiving and time that the director and actors need to spend with their respective families and friends, we only have two rehearsals this week before we load-in the set next Saturday and move into tech-Sunday, so keep an eye out for our next post during dress rehearsal week! Follow us on Instagram for more behind-the-scenes photos @shakespearemachine and be sure to snag your Macbeth tickets at artstix.org.