Trevor Murray’s ’16 independent senior project culminates this weekend with two performances of Macbeth that will take place on the steps of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. No stranger to the theater, Murray serves as director and costume designer for the show.
Murray, who has worked with the theater and dance department throughout his time at Bowdoin and studied Shakespeare while he was abroad, decided to revive a forgotten Bowdoin tradition of “Shakespeare on the Steps” after seeing old pictures of the performances dating back to the early 1900s. 

While the production has received funding from Masque and Gown and support from Beyond the Proscenium, a student theater group on campus, most of the work has been within the production. The cast began rehearsals after Spring Break, and so far, weather has been one of the biggest challenges.

“We couldn’t be on the steps Monday, and it’s supposed to rain on Saturday as well, so we have some rain locations which would still be disappointing because it’s really cool to use the steps,” said Murray. “It’s definitely a lot of work to try and pull a show together without a full production team.”

Despite difficulties with the weather, the director and cast have enjoyed the perks an outdoor stage adds to the play. Nick Funnell ’17, who is playing Macduff, expressed his excitement about the setting.

“It’ll be really cool because there’s a long tradition of Shakespeare being outside with Shakespeare in the Park, or even Globe Theater originally,” he said. 

“I think having it on the Museum steps does give it a very different vibe, somewhat more gothic,” added Jenna Scott ’19, who plays one of the witches.

With the help of his friend and fellow Shakespeare enthusiast Jamie Weisbach ’16, Murray was able to produce a shortened cut of the play tailored for the Bowdoin audience.

“I think Shakespeare’s really done best when it’s an hour and a half or under,” said Murray. “You’re going to get Shakespeare nerds who will sit down for a three-hour performance and love it, but I think it’s hard for Shakespeare to be that accessible for that long.”

With the cut script, Murray focused on bringing out the theme of time within his rendition.
“So Macbeth is the shortest of the tragedies, and time is mentioned very extensively in the script,” said Murray. “You have mentions of when—now, tonight, tomorrow, yesterday—and it’s about Macbeth trying to seize the future [and] put it in the present, so I wanted to capture that aspect of the cut and really try to make it this relentless hour and 15 minutes.”

Some members of cast feel they have benefited greatly from the production being entirely student-run.

 “I feel like I’ve become a better actor learning from other actors who will do a production and direct a production,” said Sydney Benjamin ’19. “It’s a lot easier to connect with the director and the other people working on the production because they’ve all been where I am right now.”
Others who have worked with Murray before had equal appreciation for his work and dedication to the production.

“[Murray’s] an awesome director for an actor,” said Funnell. “He’s way more about focusing on individual acting, how you see your character and your impulses and what your attitude is behind it.”

“As a director, I think about what story I want to help these actors tell,” said Murray. “I have my own ideas about how certain characters are thinking, so I can try and give that to the actors, and they do with that what they will and tell their own story based on that.”