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Masque & Gown brings thy screams to life with “Macbeth”

November 3, 2023

In William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” what is done cannot be undone. For the cast and crew of Masque and Gown, it was done with a passion and flair. The show’s run took place this past Friday and Saturday during Family Weekend in a sold-out Wish Theater.

Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, the famed play follows the saga of Macbeth, a Scottish noble who murders his king to take his place, leading to civil war.

Masque and Gown’s set for “Macbeth” was minimal but included a well, the water from which took more life than it gave, both cleansing bloody hands and drowning adversaries. The cast was forced to grapple with the play’s bleak subject matter throughout the rehearsal process.

“Having a lead role in something so grim has been something to get used to tone-wise,” Dylan Beckett ’27, who played Macbeth, said. “Because the character gets taken to such dark places, I had to figure out how to represent those levels—where to start, where to end—which is a challenge.”

Beckett worked with the cast and crew to delve into his character’s psyche, exploring elements beyond the blood and gore.

“Macbeth is such a bad guy, but there’s a really interesting interpretation of the show … surrounding PTSD…. As a guy, it’s interesting to play with that machismo and that tendency to push feelings down [and] push concerns down that you might have with what’s happening, to just keep moving,” Beckett said.

To reach these depths, it was important for those involved to rely on one another to make the experience enjoyable.

“Building the community of the show is not only really fun and exciting and really rewarding, but vital to the show being good,” Beckett said. “There’s got to be a lot of trust and vulnerability with each other.”

Beyond the psychological aspects of putting on the play, the script’s dialect was also something new for many cast members.

“Learning Shakespearean English is definitely something that I’m not used to,” Declan O’Connell ’27, who plays Lady Macbeth’s servant, said. “The grammar is very different, the delivery is very different, the pacing is also just different. It’s cool to learn a new style and be in such a classic show.”

Scheduled to open last Friday, the ongoing manhunt for the suspect in last week’s mass shootings in Lewiston left the weekend’s performances in limbo. While nearly all campus events last Friday were canceled, “Macbeth” was given the go-ahead to perform.

Director Ava Grandfield ’24 said that the cast was rehearsing the night of the shootings and processed the events together. She added that although the cast and crew had prepared themselves for the possibility that they would not be able to perform for a live audience, the group was especially grateful to put on the play given the circumstances.

“To be able to share all our work has been incredible, especially given [the shootings],” Grandfield said.

Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarbrough, who attended Friday’s performance, was delighted that the show would go on.

“Of all the plays to choose when you have a murderer at large in the woods,” Yarbrough said. “I thought some people could be really freaked out by it, but I was so glad they did it.”

While aspects of the production were difficult, Beckett emphasized the collaborative environment.

“I’m not nearly the person who has worked hardest on the show. There’s so many people who have put so much time and energy into it, and I just want people seeing the show to know that’s true,” he said.

Angelica Gordon contributed to this report.


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