Monday, 7 June 2010
Macbeth and the Personalised Number Plates
Half term is upon us and so it’s the Action Project once more. The Action Project is this time looking at ‘The Scottish Play’. The kids are all excited about spending the week with Rachel and myself, and the inevitable fun they’ll have, playing games, acting and singing. I have edited the script down to about 60 minutes and have translated it into modern English. I have however left all of Macbeth’s soliloquies in Shakespeare’s language and Lady Macbeth’s first and final scenes will use the original text. Monday morning, as I wait at a red light the iPod plays, ‘Logic’ by Operator Please from the new album, ‘Gloves’. I notice as I’m waiting for the lights to change that I’m sandwiched between two cars with personalised registration plates, the car in front is NAN 31, (I wonder if it was a gift for granny on a birthday) and the car behind is 5ETH. (I look in the rear view mirror and think to myself that the driver looks more like a John than a Seth). The lights change as the music does, this time ‘Cash in my Pocket’ by Wiley feat Daniel Merriweather begins to play and I drive to the rehearsal venue. The day goes well and the parts have all been given out, Lowri, a confident ten year old will be Lady Macbeth. The lead will go to Bradley, a handsome thirteen year old that all the girls have a crush on. We have an amazing group of children; they all get along really well and support each other throughout the rehearsals. Rhiannon is playing the Porter and is hilarious, she’s really got the part spot on, and she also plays King Duncan and Young Macduff. The first day over and I drive home with the iPod playing ‘White Boys Can’t Control It’ from the debut album by Culture Club, ‘Kissing To Be Clever’. It may have been released back in 1982 but it still sounds fresh twenty eight years later. I’m driving past the well know supermarket beginning with the letter ‘T’ when I spot another personalised plate, this time in front of me and the plate reads 1 NAG. Tuesday morning is spent running the third of the play we worked on the day before and after lunch we look at the next third. We have our first rehearsal of the song we’ll be doing at the end of the performance. This time I’ve chosen the theme tune from the film Ghostbusters. The first run through becomes a mix of the Ray parker Jnr version and the 118 118 commercial. I’m flabbergasted by some of the kids who are already word perfect; Rhiannon did two runs of the Porter, went home and came back word perfect. James has so much energy it’s exhausting watching him run about between his scenes with Daniel. I spot another plate on my way home, this one I could have myself that is if I was the sort of person who wanted one, which I’m not. BAZ 6842. Wednesday driving in I see yet another plate, this one is just four digits long, 6032. I guess it must have cost a fortune. ‘Domani’ by Artisti Uniti per l’Abruzzo plays. A song recorded by various Italian singers to raise money for the people of L’Aquila after the 6th April 2009 earthquake that took 308 lives. The quake, which was 5.8 on the Richter scale damaged the beautiful city of L’Aquila and many surrounding villages too, I felt personal loss too, as in Fosssa the house I was buying was destroyed. Today we get to the end of the play, all scenes are blocked and Bradley is eager now to get some direction for his soliloquies, he’s an excellent student, he asks relevant questions and understands why his character says what he says. I have asked him to portray Macbeth honestly, I want the audience to initially see him question his loyalty to Duncan before he makes his decision to kill the King, and Brad does this so well. Lowri had her first run through of Lady Macbeth’s sleep walking scene, which I’ve edited into a monologue so we can see her gradually go mad before our eyes. The day ends with some games; Nish Nash (not her real name) a five year old wants us to pretend to be animals, we get into pairs and have twenty minutes acting like all manner of creatures for the others to guess what we are. I’m with Georgia and together we become penguins, meerkat’s and a tarantula. I drive home with Kate Bush singing ‘The Wedding List’ and windows down I duet loudly along the A50. Thursday is a day of relentless re-runs of scenes and song practicing, the day is sunny and the room is soon oppressive, the doors have to opened and the sound of Daniel as Macduff shouting, “Sound your trumpets, the heralds of blood and death,” rushes out onto the back alleys of Fenton. In the afternoon, Lowri rehearses the sleepwalking scene and as she’s doing it the background activity in the room begins to slow down until every one is silent and watching Lowri wrestle with her thoughts and the imaginary blood on her hands. She finishes and the room erupts with spontaneous applause, and the ten year old blushes, the blood now visible in her face. The children all want to end the day playing the animal game again, and now the laughter and joyous pleasure of children exits the door out onto the warm afternoon air. Friday, and I’m driving to the trophy shop to collect the trophy for the outstanding student of the week, I spot another plate, this one is 5AM 33, I wonder if the Sam it refers to is male or female and is she/he thirty three? ‘Touched by the Hand of God’ by New Order is playing as I pull onto the cash and carry car park to purchase some items for the show and I park next to a car sporting the plate BL355, (Oh BLESS). The day passes by so quickly, Lunchtime comes and goes in a heartbeat and it’s dress rehearsal time. Changes are made as we rehearse for the first time in the performance space, and before you know it it’s that time – what time? You ask – SHOWTIME. Parents Arrive, kids ask; more times than I can comprehend, “Is my mum and dad here yet?” I spend my time walking backwards and forwards from child to parent and back again to say, “Yes, your family are here.” Brodie (Banquo) and James (Malcolm) are on meet and greet duty, telling parents to behave themselves and to enjoy the show. The play begins and Olivia, Sally and Katya take to the stage and as Katya utters those immortal lines, “When shall we three meet again?” Panic breaks out backstage as they all realise there’s no turning back now. I reassure them I’ll make sure they don’t go on late, but the atmosphere is full of hushed whispers of, “Baz, what scene’s next?” “When am I next on Barry?” and “What’s my first line, Baz?” There are a few stumbles over lines, but what can you expect they’ve put all this together in just five days. The boy’s look splendid in their kilts; the girls playing the witches look great; having decided that the witches in our version are sexy and glam. I remark that if I were their father I’d keep them locked up until they were twenty five. Lowri is a vision in her turquoise and black dress, she has really brought Lady Mac to life and at times makes a better job of it than some of the professional actors I’ve worked with. Rhiannon has the audience laughing at her irreverent Porter and Bradley motors through his scenes superbly. I stand at the back filling up with pride. Before you know it 60 minutes have passed and Siouxsie and the Banshee’s play ‘Spellbound’ and the walk down has begun to tumultuous applause. 21.15 and with a glass of red I reflect upon something a parent said to me as they left after the show. “What a great bunch of children you have Barry, they all have great respect and support for each other.” I smile and think to myself, at this moment in time - I’m the luckiest man in the world.