From Script to Stage: Macbeth Original Score

Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. photos by Stephen B. Thornton

The cast of The Rep’s production of Macbeth.
Photo by Stephen B. Thornton

To set the atmospheric tone for a show like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it takes an eerie, beautiful and at times, haunting, score.

For the first time ever, The Rep enlisted to help of Musical Director Mark Binns to compose an original score for a production

We have launched a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and for the third in the series, we had a chance to sit down with Binns to look at the inspiration of the score, his process, what he enjoyed most and a few samples of the pieces you’ll hear during the production. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage through Sept. 27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

Macbeth Monday: Q&A with Lighting Designer Dan Kimble

Michael Stewart as Macbeth in The Rep's production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Michael Stewart as Macbeth in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we have launched a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

In the final week, we are highlighting the incredible lighting elements of the Shakespeare tragedy with some insight from Lighting Designer Dan Kimble. Find out his approach for the production, how the set affects the design, the cool effects created just for the show, plus more.

Here is what he had to say:

Q: What piqued your interest in lighting design?

A: I was first exposed to theatre in high school. I was in shows like Oklahoma! and The Music Man, but I was most interested in how the lighting worked. I was fascinated by everything that went into lighting a show: the color options, power requirements, angle and placement, the followspots, etc. I started college without knowing what major I wanted to pursue. Fortunately, I had to take a theatre class as part of the general education requirements for all majors. In that class, the students had to work on tech crew for one of the university’s mainstage shows. I asked to be a followspot operator for Annie Get Your Gun and loved doing it. After talking with the professor of the class and learning that people had full careers being lighting designers, I was hooked.

Q: How do you approach the lighting design for a play like Macbeth?

A: Most of Shakespeare’s plays can be (and frequently are) interpreted in a variety of ways; the creative license can be very broad. The first step is to read the script and understand what the text is giving you. Any questions moving forward can usually be answered by referring to the script, especially with Shakespeare. After thinking about what preliminary concepts I want for the lighting, the next step is beginning a dialogue with the director and the other members of the creative team. Director Bob Hupp was great with knowing the themes he wanted to convey while allowing me to focus on the story I wanted to tell with the lighting. Studying the work of the other designers (scenic, props, costumes, music, and sound) also helped inform my approach because it was crucial that I support their concepts while also helping it all come together.

Q: How does the set affect your design?

Kurt Benjamin Smith as Malcolm in The Rep's production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

Kurt Benjamin Smith as Malcolm in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

A: No other design element affects the lighting of a show more than the set. Lighting a show is 50 percent lighting the actors and 50 percent lighting the set. Scenic design, though self-sustaining, can give me great surfaces, structures and details to use to create environments and tell my story, much like in Macbeth. However, it can also create physical challenges when I am trying to figure out where to put lighting fixtures to achieve the looks that I want. Sometimes, a wall or some other scenic element can be between me and the ideal lighting angle. But, as part of a creative team, those challenges are discussed and solved in a way that supports the show and its overall aesthetic.

Q: In addition to the lights, there will special effects in the show. What will patrons be able to expect?

A: Without giving anything away, expect to see some things that you haven’t seen on our stage before. We incorporated a new design element into Macbeth, and I believe it is quite successful and helps particular scenes have a eerie and creepy feel (hint, hint).

Q: What do you enjoy most about creating the design for theatre?

A: I enjoy helping to create the moments that only a live performance can give you. The goosebumps, the awe and the surprise. Sure, more can be accomplished in a movie, but as an audience member, you are not an active member of that viewing. As a patron of The Rep, you are as much a part of those moments on stage as the actors, designers and technicians are. No two performances are the same; each show is singular and unique. It’s just part of what makes theatre so great.

See the cool lighting yourself by booking your tickets before the show ends this Sunday, Sept. 27– call the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 or visit TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

Sign Interpreter Night for Macbeth on Sept. 23

IKcjgzqMcqn an effort to make Arkansas Repertory Theatre more accessible, we have a Sign Interpreter section for the deaf on the third Wednesday of every production run through the season.

Raphael James, an instructor in the Interpreter Education program at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, will be positioned in front of the section, located on the First Mezzanine. He will sign directly for those who need his services.

We are gearing up for our next sign interpretation night, which will be the Macbeth performance at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23. There are still seats available! Any open seats in the section will be released to the public at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, so get your seats now!

Here are the remaining sign interpreter performances:10653652_10152240681971105_882036142166987126_n

  • 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28
  • The Little Mermaid: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16
  • Peter and the Starcatcher: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016
  • Bridges of Madison County: 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, 2016
  • Windfall: 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Contact the Box Office at (501) 378-0405 to reserve your seat at our upcoming interpreter nights and get more details at www.therep.org/attend.

From Script to Stage: Macbeth Costume Design

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The cast of Macbeth. Photo by Stephen B. Thornton.

From the leather armor and tunics to the moccasins, helmets and other pieces, there is no doubt much time went into planning and crafting these incredible pieces. And the woman behind these extensive costumes is returning costume designer Marianne Custer, the resident costume designer for the Clarence Brown Theatre in Knoxville, Tenn. and head of the MFA design program at The University of Tennessee.

We have launched a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and for the second in the series, we had a chance to sit down with Custer on the inspiration behind the incredible costumes, the patterns and fabrics used, as well as a look at the badges on the armor, the moccasins and more. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage Sept. 11-27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

Macbeth Monday: Did You Know?

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Michael Stewart Allen as Macbeth in The Rep’s production of Macbeth. Photo by John David Pittman.

Our 40th Season is here!

And a new show means a new blog series. To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth— our first show of the season– we have launched a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

This week, we are looking at a few things you may not know about the Bard, himself, and Macbeth, not to mention a few interesting stats.

Here you go!

Did you know?

  • Over 80 variations on the spelling of Shakespeare’s name have been discovered. Even the Bard himself couldn’t decide how to spell his name, it seems—in surviving signatures, we can see that he used “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” and “Wm Shakespe,” among others.
  • The records from Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-up on-Avon show the baptism of baby William Shakespeare on April 26, 1564 (since infant baptisms typically occurred 3 days after birth, Shakespeare’s birthday is traditionally dated April 23, 1564). Coincidentally, he died on the same day 52 years later: April 23, 1616.
  • Shakespeare is credited with introducing some 3, 000 new words to the English language. Scholars estimate that he had up to an astonishing 29,000 words in his vocabulary– that’s at least twice as many words as used by the average speaker.
  • Over the course of his wildly successful career, Shakespeare authored 37 (some say 38) plays, 154 sonnets, and 5 narrative poems. Another way of looking at it? Shakespeare wrote 884, 647 words and 118,406 lines.
  • Shakespeare was worried enough about his final resting place that he wrote an epitaph to curse anyone who dared to disturb his body:
    Good friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear
    To dig the dust enclosed here:
    Blest be the man that spares these stones
    And curst be he that moves my bones.
    Though it was customary to dig up the bones from previous graves to make room for others, the remains in Shakespeare’s grave are still undisturbed.

By the numbers:

  • 2,113: Number of lines in uncut version of Macbeth
  • 24: Number of times the word “blood” appears in the play
  • 1623: Year Macbeth first appears in print (First Folio)
  • 681: Number of lines spoken by Macbeth
  • 80: Percentage of play written in blank verse (not much prose)
  • 1606: Year Macbeth is written

Pulled from the Macbeth study guide, prepared by Paige Reynolds.

Check back every Monday to uncover a new aspect of this incredible Shakespearean tragedy and book your tickets by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

Macbeth Monday: Q&A with Costume Designer Marianne Custer

Our first show of the 40th Anniversary MainStage Season is opening this week!

And a new show means a new blog series. To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we are launching a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

This week, we are highlighting the elaborate costumes you see onstage– from the handcrafted leather armor to the plaid capes, linen tunics, moccasin shoes and more. Dramaturg and Assistant Director Paige Reynolds had the chance to talk with costume designer Marianne Custer about her inspiration.

Here is what she had to say:

MacbethCostume1

Designer Marianne Custer’s sketch of a Macbeth soldier complete with a plaid and fur-lined cape, leather armor, handcrafted moccasin shoes and linen tunic.

Q: What did you find most compelling about designing Macbeth?

A: Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s most produced plays. I’ve designed it once before rather long ago, so it was interesting to me to work on it again from today’s perspective. I think the use of technology in this production will make the supernatural elements of the play more believable and reduce the potential for unintentional humor. The play is a grand ghost story, with hauntings, witches and murder. It’s also a play about how a guilty conscience will betray one’s worst secrets. Would it be the same play if the ambitious Macbeths had been able to rise to power and commit their murderous acts without fear or regret, as today’s ambitious power mongers seem to do?

Q: What can you tell us about your inspiration? Where did you go to cultivate your vision for the overall look?

A: Because this production is to be set in the early Romanesque centuries, my research and inspiration was Celtic costume of this era. Very little change occurred in costume during the first thousand years after Christ. Fashion didn’t exist and news didn’t travel very
fast. The costumes are designed to appear primitive to support the primitive greed and superstition that lead to Macbeth’s undoing.

I wanted to emphasize the Scottish in the play through use of “plaid” fabric and kilts. Early kilts were not made of the clan tartans that we know today, but were solid or plaid, probably depending upon the wealth of the wearer. Shreds of fabric from graves have come to prove that plaid and checked fabrics existed among the Celts during Roman times. (The term “plaid” in the discussion of Scottish kilts can lead to confusion, as plaid is the proper term for the upper body covering of the ancient kilt and the term used for the strip of “tartan” cloth worn diagonally over the torso in more modern times.) Kilts were originally long lengths of cloth that could also serve as blankets. Scots would place their belts on the ground, pleat their blankets over the belt, lie down and belt the pleated cloth around their waists. The bottom would serve as the kilt and the top could be pulled over one shoulder or draped over the head as protection from cold and rain.

CostumeDesign2

Custer’s sketch of another soldier complete with a plaid cape, leather armor, handcrafted moccasin shoes and linen tunic.

The only clothing materials that existed in Scotland at the time were wool, linen, leather and fur. The Thanes in Macbeth are knights and warriors. They live rough and battle hard, as the prologue to our production will demonstrate. The warrior’s clothing is rough, battle worn, and dirty. They were not great bathers. Though metal armor existed during this period, we are using leather armor in an effort to make the costumes appear even more primitive. Long hair with braids, full beards and long mustaches also help to emphasize the primitive nature of our characters.

Q: Is there one particular element of the design that you are especially excited about? Why?

A: I just hope to be able to make all the elements of the costumes work together. The costumes are, in part, invented, so making them all seem part of the same world is a my imperative. I also hope to find a place with the actors in which the elements of the costumes support their characters and the action without them feeling buried in “the Look”. This will be one of my most important challenges in this production. “The Look”, however, is important to maintain, not just in terms of establishing a primitive culture and helping to set the time and place, but because several actors play multiple roles, “ the Look” aids in changing the appearance of the actor from one role to the next.

Q: Where are you from? How often do you work at the Rep?

A: I am from Minneapolis. I left long ago to design costumes and teach. I am a professor of 42 years at the University of Tennessee, where I developed and still head a highly successful MFA program in design for theatre. I believe Macbeth is my tenth production
at the Rep. I love working here with Bob Hupp, Cliff Baker and other talented directors. Working on August Osage County was truly a privilege. I saw the production on Broadway, saw the movie, and believe The Rep’s production better than either. I love working with the Rep’s staff, which I find welcoming, talented and always willing to give their best to help
create a vision.

Pulled from the Macbeth study guide, prepared by Paige Reynolds.

Check back every Monday to uncover a new aspect of this incredible Shakespearean tragedy and book your tickets by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!

From Script to Stage: Fight Choreography

20848584996_4378699ee9_zA lot goes into the intense fighting in our production of Macbeth and it couldn’t be done without the expertise of Fight Director Geoffrey Kent, resident fight director for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

We are launching a brand-new video series From Script to Stage and to kick things off, we had a chance to sit down with Kent on what goes into creating fight choreography, the kind of swords that the actors use onstage, what patrons can expect to see and more. Check it out below!

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage Sept. 11-27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

Dance Fight: Battle Choreography in Arkansas Rep’s Henry V

 

Watch as Fight Director D.C. Wright explains how stage combat is planned and rehearsed for maximum impact with minimum injury. 

 

 

Stage combat is risky business. One wrong move, and serious injury could result. That’s why professional Fight Directors are in charge of staging fight scenes that are visually thrilling, while maintaining safety for all actors involved. The choreography is approached much like a dance sequence. Except in this case, the dancers are trying to kill each other.

Fight scenes are planned and then first rehearsed with wooden poles at half speed. Once the actors become trained in the sequences, they move up to using stage weapons. While not razor sharp, the swords, axes and spears you’ll see in the battle scenes at Henry V are replica weapons and could cause major injury if not handled properly. Cast members rehearse fight scenes before every performance to maintain form and precision.

Watch the dramatic battle of Agincourt live on stage. Advance Tickets to Henry V are on sale until Friday.

Against Incredible Odds: Henry V

Avery Clark goes to war as King Henry V in Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s production of Henry V. Photography by Justin Bolle, ThinkDero Photography. © Copyright 2012 Arkansas Repertory Theatre. All rights reserved.

In a muddy field in northern France, a small group of English soldiers prepare for the battle of their lives. After marching in the rain for days on end, they are sick, soaked, and starving. It is October 25, 1415.

Against incredible odds, outnumbered and depleted, they will fight valiantly and victoriously to triumph in a battle that will become one of the most famous moments in English history. Their leader is King Henry V.

Shakespeare’s Henry V is one of a series of eight plays on medieval English history. We meet Shakespeare’s Henry in the plays which come just before it in sequence – Henry IV, parts 1 & 2 – where he is portrayed as the young, riotous, defiant Prince Hal.

Henry V is where the young king becomes the full-fledged hero of British folklore. He is determined, brave, brilliant, eloquent and charismatic. Henry makes the bold decision to invade France to renew an old claim on the French throne.

Henry is burdened with the task not only of facing the force of the enemy, but of unifying a wide variety of voices and perspectives into one nation. The king is also at war with his own past, mindful of the fact that his father came to the throne by overthrowing the previous king.

Following the astonishing English victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the King of France declared Henry V heir to the French throne and gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage. Princess Katherine of Valois thus became the Queen of England in 1420.

Shakespeare’s stunning play highlights the contradictions of war, its horrors alongside its glories, and creates in the character of Henry V a man who struggles to reconcile the ambiguities of his own existence. The result is a story that is dynamic, thrilling and powerful.

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Director Bob Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Learn more about The Rep’s upcoming production of Henry V at our preshow talks, our luncheon panel at the Clinton School of Public Service or our Laman Library series.

Advance Tickets to Henry V are on sale through Sept. 7 and can be purchased here.

Avery Clark Returns to Arkansas Rep as King Henry V

“From his confrontation with the close friends who betray him to his wooing of the French princess, Henry V is such a compelling character,” says Rep Producing Artistic Director and Henry V Director Bob Hupp. “A young king, untested, driven by ambition, strives for redemption and power through the cauldron of war and redefines his world in the process.”

Avery Clark as Hamlet

Arkansas native Avery Clark most recently appeared in The 39 Steps in 2011 and as Hamlet in 2010, and will portray the young King Henry V in The Rep’s season opening production.

With the death of his father, young King Henry casts off the trappings of youthful misadventures and transforms into a leader of men. With his country wracked by strife, mocked by the French and eager to assert his birthright, Henry launches a rash invasion that culminates in the fateful battle of Agincourt. Weary and grossly outnumbered, the English face near certain defeat, but Henry’s inspirational leadership turns the tide of war and turns a man into a legend.

“The power of Henry V lies in its contradictions,” says Hupp. “Valor and cruelty, greed and generosity, honor and treachery. These contradictions make the play immediately accessible to a modern audience and help bring the characters to vivid life on the stage.”

NEA GRANT FOR HENRY V TO BENEFIT ARKANSAS STUDENTS

Arkansas Repertory Theatre is the only performing arts organization in Arkansas to receive this year’s Shakespeare for a New Generation grant from Arts Midwest. The Rep will offer its production of Henry V to more than 20 schools through student matinee performances over a three-week run, reaching more than 1,500 students across Arkansas. The Rep reached more than 5,000 students last season through its Student Matinee Program.

Henry V is politics, it is history, it is the human condition in extraordinary circumstances,” says Hupp. “To be able to explore these ideas with students across central Arkansas is a central objective of our work this fall. We look forward to bringing The Rep’s first foray into Shakespeare’s history plays to vivid life for audiences of all ages, and especially, with the help of this important grant, to enriching the experience for young audiences through a greater understanding of the creative, historical and cultural context of the play.”