Something wicked this way comes.
Wicked good, that is.
While the wordplay should perhaps be left to Shakespeare, it is true that the drama students of Belmont secondary school are bringing a unique and highly professional version of Macbeth to the school stage.
Belmont’s interpretation of the play sees Macbeth hungry for power in a post-apocalyptic future, where technology has been destroyed and its remnants are feared and misunderstood.
“We’re so connected to technology, that is such an important part of our lives,” director Melissa Young said. “I definitely think the play is relevant, regardless of where we set it. But I wanted it to be accessible to students.”
This theme of technology’s influence on our lives runs throughout the play.
Even the play’s famous witches live in a shack made of remnants of cell phones and electronics, which they also drop into their spell cauldron, along with the usual eye of newt, toe of frog etc.
Macbeth is being put on by the Belmont Senior Acting Company, a group of 31 dedicated drama students who had to audition to join the year-long course.
“It’s focused on performance and it’s aimed at students who are passionate about performing arts or want to pursue this as a career,” teacher Melissa Young said. “These kids, they’re working really hard.”
In the lead role is Nick Powell, a Grade 12 student, a longtime drama student taking on Belmont’s advanced acting program for the first time.
“Macbeth is the kind of man who would do anything to get the certain thing that he wants,” Powell said. “He’s incredibly fun to play. … I’m not really an angry kind of person, so it’s very interesting and challenging for me to branch out that way.”
In his first year in any drama program, Justin Lavoie, Grade 11, is playing the part of Macduff, the Thane of Fife, paradoxically both the antagonist and the hero of the play.
“It’s a totally new experience,” Lavoie said. “Just getting into the role of a character and really getting to play it out, it’s an amazing feeling.”
Both said the Shakespearian English was hard to wrap their tongues around at first, but with practice came a sense of the rhythm and eventual mastery.
“Especially with so many lines to memorize,” Powell said. “But when you’re on stage and you have memorized the lines and you’ve gotten it all right, it really is a powerful feeling.”
Young said the young thespians are doing well and the play is coming together nicely.
“(It’s) a fast-paced thrill ride, I have to say,” Young said. “Especially when we get into Act 2 and we have a series of fight scenes, it just moves.”
As for the old theatrical superstition that you should not speak the name of “the Scottish play” while putting on a production, Young believes she found a loophole.
“I told them on the first day of rehearsal that because this isn’t a traditional theatre, because I think at one point it was an auto shop, that we can say the name,” Young said. “Nothing’s happened to me yet, no light has fallen on me.”