Despite being quarantined, the SVSU theatre department still gave a performance of “Macbeth” as a live reading over Zoom on April 16.
Director Tommy Wedge said students reached out to him asking if they could do a Zoom performance.
“It started out as possibly just a rehearsal among us, as a way to celebrate the seniors who wouldn’t be able to perform the roles for which they had rehearsed,” Wedge said. “But the more people heard about it, the more urgency there came to let it live in front of as many people as possible.”
Wedge said students were encouraged to dress up and use props from home for the performance.
“‘Macbeth’ certainly is a tragedy, but Shakespeare likes to mix his comedy into his tragedies, so there’s a little bit of whimsy in ours too,” Wedge said. “I (was) excited to see how our actors improvise some of that visually from their own closets and bathrooms.”
The cast had to work through some scenes they had not worked on since their first read-through back in January, Wedge said.
“Despite the format, what I told them is we’re not aiming for perfection,” he said. “Everyone living in their homes, struggling through these times, knows that perfect is not an ideal realistically attained in this moment. It is a time for professionalism, artistry and ingenuity, and this cast has that in spades.”
Vincent Frank, a music senior, composed the music for the show. He said that because of COVID-19, he was unable to complete all the music for the show.
“Basically, we are using whatever I had done a month ago,” Frank said. “I’m still proud of the work I’ve done, but there is a lot that didn’t get finished or isn’t as polished as I wanted it to be.”
Frank worked on music for the department’s previous show, “The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?” and approached Wedge after the production to ask about doing the music for “Macbeth.”
“Writing music for ‘Macbeth’ has been a lot more intense than ‘The Goat, or Who is Sylvia?’ was,” Frank said. “It’s longer, and we wanted to incorporate background music, cues for action or plot points and transitions. There was just a lot more going on in general.”
Frank said he focused on the atmosphere and the mood most when composing the music.
“I wanted my music to augment what was going on onstage, but not to distract from any dialogue or action,” he said. “I got a lot of insight from the production team, which helped. We ended up having music that was very dissonant and atonal for the wilderness, and scenes in castles or civilization calmer and more tonal.”
Jake Fultz, a theatre senior, said there was a rehearsal held prior to the performance. The actors had to work on conveying their characters on camera differently than they would onstage.
“You have to have stronger expressions because you’re telling the story with your expressions rather than your body language,” Fultz said.
Fultz was cast as Macduff for the performance. He said he connected to the loyalty and faith that Macduff showed.
“With Shakespeare, you have to really dissect your lines and ensure that you don’t just understand them, but you understand them well enough to help your audience understand them as well,” Fultz said.
The onstage performance of “Macbeth” has been rescheduled for October.
“Once we get to do it live, I’m all about the stage combat,” Wedge said. “Getting to choreograph student armies with longswords, bastard swords and shields, battling it out. … What’s not to like? But for that part of it, you’ll have to wait for us to be live in October.”