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Art, Films and Television

You are in: Somerset > Entertainment and Leisure > Art, Films and Television > Countdown to Macbeth at the Brewhouse

James Pidgeon, Macbeth, Brewhouse, Taunton

Playing Macbeth was daunting for James

Countdown to Macbeth at the Brewhouse

Teenagers from the Brewhouse Young Theatre Company (&Co) stage Macbeth this time against the backdrop of 1930's Europe, with echoes of Hitler and the rise of Nazism.

Over the past two weeks we have been getting updates from the teenagers at &Co who've been putting on a production of Macbeth.

Their interpretation of the story is set in the 1930's and 40's, depicting Macbeth as a dictator manipulated into power by his media-savvy wife, and the three witches, this time portrayed as 'evil, yet elegant women'.

The play ran from the 13 til 17 August.

&Co's Macbeth at Brewhouse, witches

'Eerie, yet elegant' witches in Macbeth

Opening night - 13 August

James Pidgeon, title role, Macbeth

Opening nights are always frightening, but opening nights for a promenade performance are even more uncertain!

James Pidgeon, Macbeth, Brewhouse

James has acted in 3 productions by &Co

For the first time, we had a large assembled audience – something which you can’t rehearse – and the fantastic and responsive group we had last night were moved, shifted and shuffled to the various spaces around The Brewhouse.

These are sites that are never normally seen by the general public and therefore there is a certain mystery and ambiguity surrounding the performance which suits the themes and style of the play so well.

To be given the opportunity to play Macbeth in my third &Co. production has been both daunting yet exciting, and that was exactly how I felt last night. Yet after the first scene the nerves began to cease, and the whole cast began to settle and relax into the rhythm of the piece.

For me, the most exciting part of last night’s production was my early scenes with Lady Macbeth where we plot the murder of King Duncan. These scenes are played in one of the eeriest settings in the theatre and with the audience stood literally face-to-face with us, there was a heightened intimacy which is something that is harder to achieve when on the main stage.

Last night’s performance went really well, but as a company, we have only just started!

11 August

Phyllida Bluemel, shadow set and costume designer writes:

It’s now only a few days until we perform and another intensive week of rehearsals means that we are well on the way to a great show!

Being the Shadow Set and Costume designer is a fantastic way to get an idea of what being in theatre is all about, and this &Co. production is especially exciting to be working on in terms of design, as we’re not only confined to the stage but are using all different spaces around The Brewhouse.

Learning their lines

The show will be on until 17 August

Today we had a run in costume. The concept is modelled around a 20th century dictatorship and so there have been lots of World War Two soldiers appearing round The Brewhouse!

Also, don’t expect to see the three witches as old hags, but as glamorous (yet eerie) 1940s sirens in blood red gowns.

Despite all the hard work, it’s definitely worth it to see all the designs being worn and built!

5 August

Nic Fisher who will play Banquo writes:

Well, one week down and one to go!

This is the fourth year in a row I’ve been involved in an &Co production and this is by far the most gruelling, the last few days I’ve come home feeling completely drained.

Nic Fisher

Nic plays Banquo

However I also think this could be the most exciting production to date. So far we’ve spent most of the week working on ‘blocking’ our way through the play, which means sorting all the mechanics of the piece, working out where we stand within the various spaces and what our respective characters are thinking.

Fortunately the advantage of your character being killed off at the start of act three means I have it relatively easy!

On Wednesday we also had a presentation from the designer which I certainly found really interesting and with her ideas it really helps to start to bring the play alive.

Now all that’s left to do is learn all those lines and prepare for another intensive week before stepping out in front of the public…

Ellie Westbrook as Lady Macbeth at Brewhouse

Ellie Westbrook plays Lady Macbeth

29 July

Ellie Westbrook (Lady Macbeth) reports from the first day of rehearsals:

Two years ago I did ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ with &Co. and the experience has, and will fondly remain in my mind forever.

But we’re approaching a much more challenging route this year, with one of Shakespeare’s finest, possibly most challenging tragedies, and I am playing the character of Lady Macbeth.

This is possibly one of the most brilliantly terrifying parts I’ve ever attempted - I know the next three weeks are going to be some of the most exhausting of my life!

This was confirmed by our first rehearsal today; just the read-through tired me out!

Because it is a promenade piece within The Brewhouse, both cast and audience alike are going to be approaching the theatre from a previously unexplored angle.

This both excites and scares me – perfect character preparation! I am surrounded by a cast of both fresh faces and faces from the past; an enthused environment to make something truly original. 

Keep checking the BBC Somerset website for more diary updates from the cast.

last updated: 18/08/2008 at 15:03
created: 29/07/2008

You are in: Somerset > Entertainment and Leisure > Art, Films and Television > Countdown to Macbeth at the Brewhouse

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