Bard on the Boards


Bard on the Boards For HS and older Mondays 7pm - 8:30pm $195 plus hst

Call 613-384-8433 to enroll.

Course of Study-MacBeth

Understanding the text of this dark and occult Shakespearean play.

Macbeth has fascinated play goers and readers of the play for years. King James the 1st of England, or as he was known by his Scottish handle; King James the 6th of Scotland had a fascination with witchcraft and sorcery. In fact King James wrote

an authoritative work on witches and sorcerers called Demonology. He is also well-known for commissioning England's writers to produce the self-named King James version of the bible. Shakespeare wrote the play as a propaganda piece to legitimize King James claim to the throne, as well as to satisfy the king's fascination with the occult. The play is a difficult one for the actor playing the lead because the character has no ups and downs. Macbeth becomes successful through assassination but he is plagued by witches, prophecies and his own destructive ambition. Bad luck that tends to dog actors in the play, perhaps because of its sword fighting, or perhaps because of the witches curses. Having done the play twice I can certainly attest to its un lucky events. The imagery and the poetry is beautiful. Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton who has been credited with part of the play use three distinct styles, the iambic pentameter of the nobility and the prose of the working class. But thirdly there is the six syllable contrasting beats of the witches. Supernatural creatures were usually assigned this particular speech pattern. The witches start their lines hard on the first beat, while weakening on the second, the opposite to iambic pentameter. Iambic pentameter stresses the second beats.

We will focus on certain scenes, scenes that catch the spirit of the play, because of their fame and because of their impact on the story. We will work on Lady Macbeth's famous guilt-ridden blood washing scene where she can't get the blood out of her hands, and Macbeth's famous soliloquies that lead him further and further into hell. We will also look at the witches scenes and their connection to their mythical sisters from Greece.

We will also take a look at the fictional Macbeth versus the historical character, and why they differ so much.

We will also take a look at theatre in Shakespeare's day. How would Shakespeare's crew of actor's delivered their lines, how they would have acted. What clues lie in the text for what the actor should do on stage

While King James was afraid of occult forces destroying his monarchy we will look at the darker forces that lurked in the shadows of the nation's churches, dark forces that actually destroyed the monarchy itself and the theatre as an institution.

Chilina Kennedy at Stratford

Jacob James in the Tempest

Instructor Charles Robertson has directed a number of Shakespeare's plays having worked with Chilina Kennedy who choreographed the ball scene for Romeo and Juliet and is now starring in Evita at Stratford.

Jacob James who played Ariel opposite William Hutt in The Tempest played a number of leads for Charles, including Hamlet and Romeo

Peter Van Gestel who understudied as Sam in Mirvish's Lord of the Rings in Toronto as well as playing at Stratford. Peter played Hamlet for Charles

Jesse Dwyer is now at Stratford but he played Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream for Charles at The Grand Theatre

Tony Babcock played Bottom for Charles in a City Park rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream is touring around North America with his show now and has dome television work and commercials

D Jeremy Smith played who runs the touring Driftwood Shakespeare Company played Horatio for Charles in Hamlet

J Adam Brown of television and film played in a Fort Henry version of The Tempest for Charles

Charle's approach is to approach Shakespeare like any other writer and find out what works and what doesn't in the script. He approaches the script without any academic interpretation, seeking only to approach it in a practical manner.

Young people are usually much more at ease with Shakespeare because they don't realize he is supposed to be difficult or that the particular play they are working on is a masterpiece. Young people respond much better to the poetry that an do older people who have, because of social conventions, buried their natural affinity for poetry. Adults are afraid of being wrong, of seeming foolish so they supplant the practical approach with vague academic theories. Academic study will make any Shakespearean play seem incomprehensible. A practical approach works much better.



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