Macbeth - rehearsals continue
Jon Pashley, Assistant Director on Macbeth, takes us into the rehearsal room and glimpses the transformation of the Crucible auditorium.
After a week of speaking and listening to Shakespeare’s poetry, and of starting to piece together all the details which make the world of Macbeth, we’ve started putting the play on its feet. Before rehearsals had started, our fantastic Stage Management team had laid down the mark-up: a life-size ground plan of the set, drawn out on the rehearsal room floor with different coloured electrical tape, each representing a different element of the Theatre’s and the production’s architecture. While we sat gathered in the first week with our scripts and pencils, glimpses of landmarks could be seen winking at us in between tables and chairs, but it was an exciting moment when the chairs were cleared away and the space’s unbroken lines were revealed.
Even on the rehearsal room floor, the concentric circles of our performance space have a terrific sense of focus and at the same time, an openness. Meanwhile, as we set to work in here, the Crucible Theatre itself is being set up in-the-round to embrace this circle. Popping my head into the Theatre the other day to see how the building was progressing, I was struck by the sense of space the new configuration gives the auditorium and the interesting way adding an extra section of seating has shifted the balance between the stage and the audience.
Back in the rehearsal room we’re introducing the action Shakespeare has given us to the shape of Richard Kent’s design. The effect of this is revealing the brilliance of both. We’re discovering energy-filled spaces where messages from the battlefield tumble in from every angle, focused spaces of prayer-like contemplation and bear pits where characters find themselves trapped and taunted by combatants real and imaginary. It’s also at this stage in the process that we see, besides being a superb poet, Shakespeare is truly a maker of theatre: there’s as much poetry involved in the bodies he asks for on the stage as there is in the words he asks them to speak, balancing large public scenes with intimate solos and duets, playing rhythmic games with action and dynamics of pace. All these discoveries give us a rich starting point, with lots of possibilities for us to explore and refine as we continue in rehearsals and through into performance.