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Highland Theater Graces the Stage With Their Production of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Sawyer+Wood+and+Isabella+Giordano+perform+a+scene+in+Macbeth.
Sawyer Wood and Isabella Giordano perform a scene in Macbeth.

Sawyer Wood and Isabella Giordano perform a scene in Macbeth.

Sarah Brinck

Sarah Brinck

Sawyer Wood and Isabella Giordano perform a scene in Macbeth.

Kyle Adams, Senior Editor

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This spring, the Highland theater program graced the stage of the Little Theater with their production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Highland seniors Sawyer Wood and Isabella Giordano led the play in the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth respectively. The show itself experimented with several innovative staging, lighting, and set production concepts.

Macbeth is my favorite Shakespeare play,” head director and Highland theater teacher Alexie Baugh said. “It has a wide range of characters and I wanted to do something totally different than our big fall show.”

Macbeth continues the Highland theater trend of staging darker psychological productions such as Sweeney Todd and Pippin. In this Shakespeare play there were multiple on and offstage deaths that were expertly executed by the talented cast.

“It’s nice because when we are advertising for the show I can be like ‘hey, come watch me die,’” senior playing the role of Lady Macduff, Elise Dunaway said. “People are usually concerned but I am like, ‘no, it’s OK, I’m avenged.’”

Sarah Brinck
The cast performs a dinner scene.

The show featured several outstanding performances from students such as Ian Shannon as Macduff and Bri Irvine as Banquo, but the consensus among cast, crew, and audience was that Isabella Giordano’s impetus behind the action was the highlight:

“Isabella Giordano as Lady Macbeth steals the show every time,” Shannon said. “Just the raw power she brings to the role is really something else.” 

Sarah Brinck
The Macbeths conspire after killing king Duncan

Shows in the little theater are quite different from the more spatially intensive productions in the gym. When blocking, Baugh had to consider the unique position of the audience’s chairs and their ability to block the view of the stage floor for those only sitting a few rows back. Luckily this problem and others involving the space were relatively easy to fix with some careful directing.

Although it is not perfect, the little theater gives the audience a more intimate experience with the actors. Detailed actions were more easily seen, allowing the actors to develop their characters in a way that would otherwise be impossible. Every creak of the set could also be heard, adding to the generally eery tone of the production.

“What is nice here is we didn’t have to worry about microphones.” Baugh said. “As a tech aspect that is really great and as actors it reminds us to project our voices.”

One of the main elements that set this production of Macbeth apart from a normal high school play was the use of props. The theater department commissioned around 20 real metal swords from Highland’s metalworking class. Each sword not only gave an added amount of personal flair to each costume, but enabled the actors to perform several advanced on-stage combat scenes.

Kyle Adams
Sawyer Wood and Ian Shannon spar closing night.

 “The swords added just a perfect sound to it,” says sword fabricator KJ Jackson. “The wood just wouldn’t have done it justice.”

The most extensive fight scene within the play occurred between Shannon and Wood as Macduff and Macbeth at the climax of the play. Each blow from their heavy blades sent a shock wave through the crowd.

“It is a thing you will see with modern Shakespeare,” Shannon said. “As a society we have gotten to the point where violence is fun. People like to see violence for the spectacle of it. It is a set piece.”

Sarah Brinck
Banquo (played By Bri Irvine) Is killed on stage by a masked man.

With the use of real swords (even unsharpened ones) comes a great deal of risk. Choreography on the final fight scene took about two hours to design and many more hours of practice to perfect. The actors’ challenge was to make the fight look real, but not get hurt at the same time.

“It’s exhausting,” Shannon said. “If you ever want a good workout, join a theater class and do stage fighting.”

Closing night, Shannon ended up nicking Wood with a thrust, bruising him. The same night another actor cut herself on a dagger. Luckily, each had the gusto to continue their role without a hitch.

“The weight is a lot different than a wooden sword,” Shannon said. “If I didn’t have another sword to bang off of mine, I couldn’t stop it in the air. It is so heavy.”

Kyle Adams
Sawyer Wood holds is sword to the throat of Ian Shannon.

The cast and crew of Macbeth used their resources to put on a splendid play. As a whole, the cast worked well together. Each performer gave the energy to adapt Highland’s Macbeth into a unique and enjoyable experience for the community.

“Theatrically, it was well staged. It was well prepared; it was well memorized, well inflected,” says middle school theater teacher Nathan Holcomb. “It was just good.”

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