Mary Moynihan | Macbeth
Interview by: Caomhan Keane
Many people are familiar with the tale of the ambitious Scots nobleman who goes on a murderous rampage following a prophecy of power from three mysterious witches only to discover that you should be careful what you wish for. Director Mary Moynihan, Artistic Director of Smashing Times Theatre Company offers up a new take on the timeless tale, whilst retaining the compelling qualities that make this story so engaging. Adapted for a contemporary audience and presented by an ensemble cast of DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, this production highlights the continuing relevance of this masterpiece.
This production is a student production. Why should one splash out for a ticket for this over, say, a Classic Stage Ireland or a Second Age show?
Our actors are professional actors in training and I'm a professional director. Many of them have worked professionally before coming here and all have had to pass a rigorous audition process to be accepted onto the course. We see hundreds of people every year and take only a handful so there is no disputing the talent of our students.
Also we treat this as a professional production. Our rehearsal hours and the standard expected are exactly the same as in professional theatre. This is as polished and professional as you would see anywhere.
Is it Macbeth straight up or with a twist?
This is Macbeth with a twist. We've moved the setting to a post-apocalyptic world and introduced a strong visceral and heightened physicality to express the inner life of the characters. Our version comes in at an hour and fifteen minutes so we have heavily edited the original text and I think people will be pleasantly surprised. We've definitely put a new spin on Shakespeare.
People often shy away from the mystical elements of the play. Is that your approach or have you really just gone for it?
We have very much reinforced the mystical undercurrents of the play. Hecate, who only makes a brief appearance in most versions of Macbeth, is a more pervasive and controlling influence in our production. Our Weird Sisters are akin to Macbeth's mistresses. They seduce him with the idea of great power and like many great elicit love affairs the conclusion is often tragic. Our Macbeth also has many sides to his personalities and his inner evil demons come to the fore at points. In fact this is possibly one of the most mystically focused productions of Macbeth you'll ever see.
What does Macbeth have to say to a modern audience?
I feel that Macbeth resonates as much now as it did when Shakespeare wrote it over 400 years ago. The themes of power and greed are absolutely relevant to a modern audience, particularly in light of recent political and banking scandals. The "be careful what you wish for" message applies to everything in life as guilt and greed ultimately consume both Macbeth and his wife. If you look at the basic plot of an ambitious man killing for power, it is no different to what has happened in several dictatorships around the world. I think everybody can find something to relate to in the text, which is the genius of Shakespeare's writing.
You must have seen plenty of productions over the years. Any one stand out as being remarkable? Does any one M or Lady M stand out in memory?
Dame Judi Dench as Lady Macbeth in Trevor Nunn's 1979 production gives an outstanding performance. Her sleepwalking scene (have a look on YouTube) is powerful.
Does working on a student production provide you with a freedom to pursue certain things you wouldn't be able to do with a professional production or not?
I have been training these students in a method, which is a mixture of techniques by David Zinder, Michael Chekhov, and Stanislavski as well as the writings of Yoshi Oida. This technique, I believe, works to free up a person's blocks thus enabling them to access deeper truer emotions, which will lead to a more honest performance. This type of training takes time to work in breaking through those blocks, and working on a full time basis with these actors over many months allows for a lot more progress into this than the typical 4 week rehearsal period affords.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Tuesday 1st May 2012 | Theatre
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