A Macbeth Miscellany (Day 65)

Macbeth Cauldron

This is some of my most recent work, a selection of the cues that I wrote for the production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that was presented by the University of Delaware’s Resident Ensemble Players in the fall of 2014.

Macbeth BattleThe photo above shows Macbeth and the three “witches” (played by three puppeteers) in the Cauldron scene, while the one on the left shows you Macbeth and Macduff in their final fight to the death. The production was directed by Leslie Reidel, to whom I owe considerable gratitude for this commission. Leslie and I have enjoyed a very happy collaboration over the past few years at Enchantment Theater, where we have two projects currently in development. It was Leslie’s decision not to treat the song-like texts in Macbeth (like the witches’ chant “Double, double, toil and trouble” in the Cauldron scene) as opportunities for singing; instead, the actors infused Shakespeare’s text with compelling spoken expression, and the music functioned as atmospheric underscoring.

Like the work I did with Leslie on Harold and Sylvester, the music for Macbeth was created while the piece was in rehearsal, and tailored to the stage action. In some cases, like the final Mac vs. Mac swordfight, that meant recording the stage action on video and then scoring it film-style. Because I was creating the music using digital tools, the final tweaking of the score took place during tech rehearsals. This process enabled an unusual fastidiousness of detail, which in turn made a significant contribution to the overall impact of the theatrical event. The occasions to work this way are lamentably rare in the life of a theater artist, where too often we are fighting a losing battle with dwindling resources of time and money, and I have found that my response to these constraints has been to settle too soon for a less-than-perfect result. I consider myself fortunate to have had a few occasions where the constraints were less dire, and where the producer (in this case, Sandy Robbins at the University of Delaware) took pains to make sure the artists had sufficient resources to deliver a first-class product.

One thought on “A Macbeth Miscellany (Day 65)

  1. Pingback: Song of the Orphan, from Einstein’s Dreams (Day 86) | Notes from a SAVI Savant

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