Are you superstitious? The most famous theatrical superstition is, of course, the one about “The Scottish play”. Do the cast of Lazarus Theatre’s new ensemble production believe in curses?
I started last night’s post-show Q&A, the first of three I’m chairing for Lazarus Theatre’s new 2020 season of plays at London’s Greenwich Theatre, by agreeing on terms of engagement. According to the so-called Scottish curse, saying the word “Macbeth” in a theatre – either in reference to the title of Shakespeare’s 17th-century tragedy or the names of the title character or his wife – except in performance of the script will cause disaster. But repeatedly saying, the Scottish play, the Scottish King, the Scottish Lord’s wife and so on can really slow down a conversation. Best to check with all involved – I certainly didn’t want to be to blame for any mishaps or misfortunes.
A couple of cast members tentatively raised their hands to admit being superstitious, but Lazarus Theatre artistic director Ricky Dukes, who has adapted, directed and designed the current production, to dispel the myth and lead something of a Macbeth mantra.
Unfettered, we tackled other matters relating to Macbeth and Lazarus Theatre’s approach to this and the classics, such as:
- Beyond ambition, what drives and binds together Macbeth and Lady Macbeth?
- What does Shakespeare tell us about the nature of tyrants?
- Is there something of Macbeth in each of us?
- Why make the Weird Sister witches men?
- How do you divvy up a cast of thirty-odd characters in Macbeth between a cast of just ten? (And who knows exactly how many characters there are?)
- What keeps actors coming back to work with Lazarus Theatre? (Most of the cast are returnees, some having appeared in as many as six shows to date.)
- In what way is ensemble acting like sport?
- What’s special – and challenging – about performing at Greenwich Theatre? Should – and could – it become a full-time producing house again?
- Of the words and phrases coined by Shakespeare in this play, which are the company’s favourites? (I put in my vote for “the milk of human kindness”.)
Macbeth continues at Greenwich Theatre until 7 March 2020. Lazarus Theatre’s 2020 season continues with Hedda Gabler (25 March-4 April, Q&A on 31 March) and Peter Pan (24 June-11 July, Q&A on 30 June).
Event photography by Peter Jones.
Production photography by Adam Trigg.