As of January 7, 2013, this website will serve as an archive site only. For news, reviews and a connection with audience and creators of theatre all over the country, please go to The Charlebois Post - Canada.

Search This Blog

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Feature: Paul Hopkins on creating Macbeth

Notes on Building Macbeth
Paul Hopkins, Repercussion Theatre’s Artistic Director, will be playing the lead role of Macbeth for this summer’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park tour.
This collection of notes I’ve written is a musing on my experiences building Macbeth’s character over the past how-many-ever months. Everything I write may not be true. Everything I write may not even make sense. This is just intended to be a collage of consideration.
‘Horrid Image’ vs. ‘Nature’  – that’s fucked! How is anyone in the audience supposed to get that the Horrid image is the murder of Duncan. What’s the horrid image to me? I think ‘nature’ is the thought of actually the murdering someone is repellent, against nature – if you really think about it, the actual act of it.

...he wants to kill – or thinks he has to kill.

Corruption: Is that what’s behind our garbage at RT not being picked up and us getting tickets for it? 

So Macbeth is infected as soon as the possibility of becoming king is presented to him – he wants to kill – or thinks he has to kill. Why does he leap immediately to that conclusion? 

If Macbeth’s a human (like I am), wouldn’t it be awful to kill someone who’s done nothing to deserve it. I believe that is in my nature and killing someone would be against my nature. Sometimes I spontaneously feel extraordinarily violent towards bike thieves or taggers (They tagged Repercussion Theatre’s 20ft truck! – and I said out loud ‘if I had a gun’) of course I wouldn’t kill someone for spray painting – but maybe if I was under a lot of stress or followed that impulse in a moment, maybe, maybe, maybe I would. Macbeth has a lot of time to think about this. Hey Shakespeare gives him a lot of time to try to convince himself not to do it.
I know so much about Macbeth and yet I know nothing.

From almost the first moment in the play Macbeth fights against what he senses is almost inevitable. He’s afraid of the feeling it stirs up in him: ‘Shakes so my single state of man’. 

Imagination. Macbeth has an awesome imagination. I get that: wouldn't it be great to be the Artistic Director of Repercussion Theatre, then I could do this and this and this. I get the job and now I'm doing that that that. No regrets but it not what I expected and I'm nowhere near as excitable as I was when I started.

I know so much about Macbeth and yet I know nothing. Everything I’ve ever heard has to be treated as an assumption, a red flag. It needs to be realized and I have to get underneath it to understand. Example… if we choose to make Macbeth and Lady Macbeth a highly charged sexual relationship, what does that mean? That we want to have sex all the time. Okay. I tried that and that doesn’t work for me. Why does Macbeth need Lady Macbeth? What kind of sex do they have that propels them to kill the king. I think the root is in Macbeth’s desperate need to be comforted by Lady Macbeth. She’s able to comfort him, console him into killing Duncan. She’s the capable one, he needs her help. 

Little thing that become big things.

Manliness. People talk about it being a play about manly ambition. What does that mean? If this play is set in a modern context, what is manly in a modern context? How does it relate to this play? I guess, if set in the period and including swords and warriors, I could just don the character but not in this production.
How does a story about kings and witches relate to today’s world? We don’t live a world rooted in the belief of God so there’s no hierarchy like what existed in Shakespeare’s time. There is no mysterious and all powerful God, or heaven and hell, to hold people accountable.

10 days from performances and we’ve decided to change to thrust blocking.

There is no God. I don’t actually believe that, but I can’t expect our audience to collectively gasp at Macbeth’s actions because he’s risking eternal damnation. They are not going to watch this play and think, ‘Don’t listen to the witches. They are the devil’s messengers.’ That’s presumably what Shakespeare’s audience would’ve done. The consequences of Macbeth’s actions, to them, would be ultimately accountable to God, or more specifically, eternal damnation.

Why did Arianna cry when Macbeth died? Why did it make me cry?

Lady Macbeth goes crazy. She doesn’t pay attention or isn’t affected by things like murder, blood, horror. Everything that we ‘deem’ not good but could easily look at and say it means nothing, if we chose to be callous. Macbeth doesn’t do that. He feels it and then aspires to be as cold and strong as someone who doesn’t. Is that why Lady Macbeth looses her mind? How does Macbeth loose his mind? 

I actually believe that modern witches are television commercials. They point out to us what we don’t have and spark a desire for those things. That’s, quite simply, what the witches do to Macbeth.  If I get this one thing more then I will be happy. The witches promise Macbeth happiness.

Montreal heat wave during outdoor rehearsals. 42 hours in the hottest sunniest weather Montreal's had since I joined Repercussion Theatre. Hope it lasts through the rest of the summer and then we can enjoy gorgeous summer nights in the park.

Why did Arianna cry when Macbeth died? Why did it make me cry?
Uuuhm... now that I think of it, I have no ambition to play Macbeth. Where did I get that crazy idea.

Verse and iambic pentameter are usually so helpful, but in this play in particular it’s very inconsistent. I’ve decided that it’s not accidental and that every broken verse line or seeming incorrect stress needs to be acknowledged and played very specifically if I want to understand Macbeth’s journey. (i.e. – by THE worst MEANS the WORST, for MINE own GOOD – So… I’m supposed to stress the word the? Okay I’ll try it…

Arianna Bardesono, our director, compared Macbeth becoming king to the modern sensibility that everyone can be anything in an instant, without the time and extraordinary dedication and hard work that the world used to insist on.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please read our guidelines for posting comments.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.