Like me, I think most people studied "the Scottish play" Macbeth at school. The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble (QSE) has released Macbeth in the Dark, which is a radio-play version of William Shakespeare's famous psychological tragedy. It is very timely and a perfect play for our current infected world. You can tune in to hear this two-hour classic from 4 September to 6 November.
Macbeth in the Dark is available via the ensemble's website as an online listen-at-home experience. You'll also find a programme and listeners' guide here. The title is a play on words: for both the technical term for a theatre that isn't open; and the play's dark themes. I listened to the play by candlelight (on my comfy sofa in Brisbane not bonnie Scotland, alas). Audiences are encouraged to listen in low lighting, or if you dare, in the dark (oh horror, horror, horror).
The play brings together actors, original music, and sound engineering wizardry under the direction of one of Queensland's most loved actors and voice artists, Kate Wilson. The opening music with Celtic pipes sets the scene for the first Act, with the three creepy, cackling witches and storm sound effects. Fair is foul, and foul is fair. This ambitious project features a cast of ten talented actors playing over 25 different characters between them. Lady Macbeth superbly played by Rebecca Murphy was a stand-out for me.
Artistic Director, Rob Pensalfini, said, 'Much as in Shakespeare's day, the plague happened. When the plague hit London, Shakespeare's company did not sit idle (nor did Shakespeare write King Lear, that's a myth, so don't feel bad that you didn't write a great work of literature in the last two months). Instead, they adapted one of their plays and took it on the road with a smaller cast. Going on the road has not been an option in the current state, so we thought we'd adapt a play and take it to the airwaves instead, and in the process re-awaken a lost art form, the radio play.'
The Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble QSE is well-known for its popular Shakespearean productions performed annually at Roma Street Parkland. However, like many artists worldwide, the ensemble's actors and crew found themselves needing to reimagine their 2020 season quickly. Although QSE is currently presenting physically distanced work, they are getting even more creative to maintain connections within the community. Core ensemble members are working with community partners, such as the Red Cross, to create online events for community members who have previously connected with the company through programmes such as A Night At The Theatre. The radio play format has opened up exciting opportunities for taking QSE's performance work into prisons, extending relationships already established through its renowned Shakespeare Prison Project.
The Scottish Play The "Scottish play" is a euphemism for Shakespeare's famous play Macbeth. Mentioning the play by its name, while inside a theatre, is considered bad luck according to widespread theatrical superstition. Lay on, Macduff.