Day six

Day six

Macbeth rehearsals

1st September 2011

 

“‘The notion of placing a full stop at the end of the first line and taking ‘It were done quickly’ as part of the next sentence is ingenuity misplaced.”According to the editor of one of the numerous editions of Macbeth floating around the rehearsal room.

Ingenuity misplaced!

Searching through the many different versions of the text today, we realised we had stumbled across a battlefield in its own right. We could almost feel the heavy blows of the editors as, over the years and through publication, they have slugged it out – vying to be the reigning champion of Shakespeare interpretation, if not Shakespeare’s intention itself.

We found notes followed by the derisive snort that such and such an editor ‘absurdly suggests’ a different reading of a line to their own.

And so it continued. Point against point-rebellious, arm ‘gainst arm. No sorry. Point against point, rebellious arm ‘gainst arm. No, hang on …

In addition to the carnage of editors’ reputations, we also found helpful acting notes – such as (in reference to ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow / Creeps in this petty pace, from day to day) ‘I assume that he paces as he speaks’. Right.

Some notes paused from dense academic study to remark, apparently apropos of nothing, ‘Mrs Siddons here looked at Macbeth’s face for the first time in the scene’. Ok, that’s lovely. Not entirely sure what to do with that though …

Some notes were spectacularly pedantic: ‘Birnam. A high hill near Dunkeld’ … Good … ‘12 miles W.N.W of Dunsinnan,’ … Thanks … ‘which is 7 miles N.E. of Perth’.

And some simply want to make sure you haven’t forgotten how to speak. ‘Rememberance. A quadrisyllable.’

One particularly active note we found was an explanation for the Doctor’s speech ‘Were I from Dunsinane away and clear, / Profit again should hardly draw me here’, which instructed that this was ‘A jingle to fortify himself’.

And although it’s not Macbeth specific, I can’t help but share the illuminating advice I recently read in “Let’s do a play!” by Rodney Bennet:

‘If you have to be frightened at some one coming in at the door, look at him before you gasp, “Who is that?” But not too soon. Don’t do it before the door opens.’

Just brilliant.

Sarah Bedi – Director

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