Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a dark play, filled with greed, malice, murder, guilt, witches and heads without bodies. Lady Macbeth is probably thought of as one of the most powerfully seditious of his female characters. She rids herself of all feminine weaknesses to follow her passion to be the Queen of Scotland.
It is difficult to imagine the role of Lady Macbeth played by a lovely Nederland student, but on Saturday, August 5, Aya Donahue pulled it off, shedding her innocence and striding on the Nederland Backdoor Theater Stage as if she had grown up behind the curtain.
When Lady Macbeth wrings her hand and moans, “Out, out damned spot,” you believe her, feel the immense torture of her guilt. The performance is amazing, the deliverance of Shakespeare’s lines impeccable.
It was the culminating performance of a week-long Nederland Children’s Theater Troupe session. The kids have been learning and practicing for the past week preparing to perform for the public on Saturday. The lines of the play are original but have been abridged for the production.
“Macbeth” is set in ancient Scotland based on 11 century history.
The play begins with three witches gathered around a cauldron when Macbeth and Banquo walk by. the witches predict that Macbethwill be named the Thane of Cawdor and then the King of Scotland and Banquo will be the father of kings.
Macbeth is made the Thane of Cawdor and shortly after that he meets King Duncan who tells him he is going to make his son Malcolm his heir to the throne. Macbeth tells Lady Macbeth about the witches prophecy and she becomes obsessed with him becoming king and, of course, her becoming queen and plans Duncan’s murder. Macbeth carries out her wishes. Duncan’s murder is discovered by thane Macduff so Macbeth kills Duncan’s guards claiming them guilty.
Duncan’s son leaves the country, fearing for their lives. Now Macbeth has to get rid of Banquo and his son whom the witches predicted would be king. The son gets away. At a banquet, Macbeth sees the bloody ghost of Banquo. Macduff heads to England to join Malcolm. Ridden with guilt and fear, Macbeth returns to the witches for their prophecy and he told that “none born of woman will harm him” and he is safe until the Birnam Forest moves to Dunsinane.
Macduff tries to convince Malcolm to reclaim his throne and vows revenge on Macbeth who killed his family.
Meanwhile Lady Macbeth is losing it, going through the murder every night, trying to wash the blood from her hands. Malcolm puts together an army and invades Scotland in an effort to take back the throne. Lady Macbeth dies and Macbeth goes to battle. Macbeth learns that Macduff was born by Caesarean section and knows the witches prophecy will come true. Macduff and Macbeth enter into a sword fight and Macbeth is killed. Macduff cuts off his head to prove his victory and takes over the throne of Scotland.
Whoever is left lives happily ever after.
The Children’s Theater was created by Nederland Elementary School teacher Corrie Beauvineau. Kirsten Morgan adapted the original script to make it shorter and easier for the children to memorize.
All of the kids did a great job of delivering their lines with ease, obviously understanding the language and feeling comfortable with adding their own style or emphasis on the time honored script.
Emily Geels, Keahi Donahue and Evelyn Gustafson were perfect in their roles as witches. They played the weird sisters with snarls and cackles and the portentous predictions that carried the atmosphere of threat and betrayal. These actors really got into their roles, which was important in setting the mood of the action.
Macbeth is played by both Shaiann Stover and Gavin Dillon. Stover plays the tormented Scotsman with an almost pensive air, as if he is fighting inner demons and just barely accepts doing what his wife is demanding. Dillon plays a more aggressive approach to the thane’s psyche, wielding his sword with bravado and facing down his enemies.
Mateo Beauvineau plays Macduff, the Thane of Fife, who saves Scotland from Macbeth’s plan to rule.
Beauvineau does a great job of fending off Macbeth in a sword fight, claiming Scotland to be free from Macbeth’s tyranny.
All of the actors played their roles with vivid emotions and grandeur, using their whole bodies to depict the emotions they were projecting.
Gavin Dillon, one of the two Macbeth’s says it took him about three days to learn his lines, which are hard enough for a high school student, much less an elementary school thespian.
This is the second year that the theater group has presented a classic play. It is a great hands on way to teach classic theater, not just to the kids but to the parents who haven’t heard some of the lines since they were in high school, and to the actors’ peers, who learned that performing old plays is cool, that the stories are forever and the actors gain more experience every time they put themselves in the spotlight.