With less than a month too go until we open "Macbeth," our designers have our hands full. This week we wanted to focus on the work they've done so far.
first off, we have Hannah Kubiak, pulling double duty as costume designer and the character of Lennox.
Q:So to start off with, can you talk a bit about your design concept?
A:Sure. During our first production meeting, Alec said that one of the themes he sees in Macbeth is that war and violence are for all time. It's a constant in our world. Always has been and always will be. I took that idea and decided to design for a post apocalyptic setting where violence and war have outlasted the world as we know it.
Q:There are a few different ideas of a post apocalyptic world. What is yours and how did you determine that?
A:Good question. The apocalypse can take many different forms, from the crazy, coked up Mad Max apocalypse to utopias with a dark underbelly like in George Orwell's 1984, or Katzuo Ishiguro's dystopian England in Never Let Me Go, "the most charming and sweet little dystopia you ever saw," as someone I know once said.
We definitely went the Mad Max route with Macbeth.
Personally, I think an apocalypse is when our environment forces us to rely more on our instincts, our passions, our "animal selves," rather than our rational selves. Reason is what separates us from the beasts.
We need our instincts and passions, of course, but everything needs to be in balance. An apocalypse is a world out of balance.
I'm now starting to question whether we live in an apocalypse at this very moment...
Q: I know that you plan to use some unconventional materials for some parts of the costumes. Could you talk about those a bit?
A:The set for the play is primarily going to be a graffiti wall with trash bins and different types of salvage. I am planning on using this "salvage" theme in the costume designs as well, going off the idea that these people will use whatever they find around them to protect/shelter themselves. I'm planning on making armor pieces from old license plates and tires, mainly. People use chains and garbage can lids as weapons in some scenes. I'm also going to try and tie the costumes in to the graffiti idea. I've been designing some symbols and "clan signatures" for a lot of these characters that will be worked into their costumes somehow.
Andy Wagner typically creates music under the name The Twilight and this is his first time sound designing for theatre.
Q:Let's start with this: did you have any kind of concept when you started working on the score?
A:When I started composing the score for Macbeth, I aimed to create something dark, gritty, atmospheric, and uncomfortable. I focused on what the evil energy of the witches would sound like and allowed that to inform the direction I took the music.
Q:Since you've been very present in rehearsals the last few weeks, has that changed any of what you're working on?
A:I've been doing my best to make changes to the music when I see something isn't working with a scene. Sometimes the mood of a cue doesn't fit with the performance an actor is giving, or maybe the pacing of a scene doesn't match up well... those are the things I'm looking out for so corrections can be made as soon as possible. Being present for rehearsals has definitely helped me lock into the vision the rest of the team has for the production, and I think it has made delivering the material we need much easier.
Q:What is your experience creating music and in particular, scoring?
A:I became interested in making music about three years ago. I've always had a deep emotional connection to music, but for most of my life I knew almost nothing about it! The only education in music I received was way back in my elementary school years. Any talent or know-how I may now possess came through learning from forum posts and educational videos online. I had no proper experience scoring prior to Macbeth.
Q:How have you adapted to the new creative experience of scoring a play?
A:It was fun coming up with a palette of sounds to use throughout the score. I think having a unified sound helps make a soundtrack feel coherent, and I hope I reached that benchmark with my work on Macbeth.
A big challenge with scoring Macbeth was writing the music that the play needed. My creative process is normally pretty free-form--I often don't know what I'm writing until it's already happened! For the score, I had to reign myself in, mentally sit myself down and say, "Look, you have to write for *this* scene right now." That was an uncomfortable experience, but I've grown as a composer for working through it.
I've learned that for scoring adaptive works (such as video games or plays, where cue points can occur dynamically) it will work better to approach composing from a slightly different perspective. For most of the scoring process, I was thinking too much about making "songs" and less about creating different aural layers that could be brought in and out as the action on-stage ebbed and flowed through different cue points. That's something I'll be sure to keep in mind in the future.
Tickets for "Macbeth" are now available under our ticket tab!
By Brittany Ann Meister
Anyone with even a passing relation to theatre, has heard that you don’t say “Macbeth” in a theatre,unless, of course, you’re performing it. Some go so far as to avoid discussing it or using particular lines from it as well. But why is this?
Well, to start off with, the Scottish Play has its own fair share of bad luck urban legends. Starting off with the play’s first performance, the young actor originally cast to play Lady Macbeth allegedly died, forcing Shakespeare himself to take the role. However, since we’re not even sure exactly when the play was written or performed for the first time, this is hard to confirm with records. Around a century later, an actor playing Duncan was supposedly killed in front of his audience when the prop dagger was replaced with a real dagger. In 1947, Harold Norman, who purportedly did not believe in superstition, died when his stage battle became a bit too realistic during his run at the titular Thane. Add in some riots, one in 1721 and one in 1772, and a third one caused by the fans of two rival actors at one’s production in New York in 1849 (with 22 dead and over 100 wounded), with the countless other stories of accidents over the years, and you have quite a bit of bad luck attaching itself to one little play.
How did Macbeth bring such bad luck on itself though? There are a few theories. To start with the most supernatural ideas: some think that the devil himself is present in the play. As who, you might ask? Why, as the porter. Some believe that Shakespeare brought the curse upon it himself, by using authentic spells in the witches’ dialogue, with King James I going so far as to have the play banned for over five years because of its incantations. However, witches were a popular component of drama in the 1600s and Shakespeare was hardly the only writer to implement them. In fact, Thomas Middleton’s The Witch was written around the same time, and used direct passages from The Discovery of Witchcraft, a book which, purportedly, contains real spells. Yet we never hear about any curses on his work. And to top it off, Shakespeare’s witches bear no solid correlation to other literature from that time period.
This leaves us with more realistic explanations. Most people will say that any play that has been put onstage for 400 hundred years, particularly one as bloody as Macbeth, will have its fair share of accidents. Many actors have stories about someone they knew who nearly fell off the stage. Rather than blame it on being clumsy or losing their footing, it is, of course, easier to blame it on someone saying the dreaded name. There is another idea though, that states that actors have grown to fear the name in the theatre due to it potentially signalling their unemployment. Theatre owners would often replace struggling productions with Macbeth-a real crowd pleaser. Therefore, hearing it the theatre outside of an actual production usually meant the owners were considering cutting your run short, or someone was rehearsaing to replace your show.
If you dig further still, you can find that a lot of the urban legends and stories surrounding Macbeth actually originated with Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, a play about the titular doctor making a pact with the devil and playing some practical jokes, before ultimately being dismembered and dragged to hell. Stories of accidents and even deaths plagued Dr. Faustus and eventually, the same stories were being told again, except with the name Macbeth.
With all of this in mind, it’s easy to let go of superstition and live life free of the cursed play. But, as it is, most thespians won’t take the chance. Even in rehearsals for VFR’s production of Macbeth, it was agreed upon that outside of performance, a nickname should be used, with a favorite being Mackers. Superstitious or not, if you find yourself uttering the name on accident, be sure to follow this remedy: exit the space, spin around three times, spit over your left shoulder, and either speak a line of Shakespeare or yell a profanity. No matter what you believe, at least you'll have your bases covered.
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