“Macbeth” Makes a Strong Entrance on Outdoor Stage

In her impressive staging of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” this year’s upper school spring play, director Meg O’Connor capitalized on the play’s theme of ambition.

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For starters, O’Connor double cast the production, which involved four different actors playing Macbeth, two per performance with the pairs switching roles in the middle of the show. But there was a method to her madness. “We did this because we want the actors to own the language, not just race to memorize inscrutable poetry,” O’Connor said.

Chanel Neal ’24, who played one of the Macbeths, understood her director’s approach. “It was nerve-racking to feel like I had to live up to the expectations of playing the namesake of the play, but with four of us playing Macbeth, we realized anyone could have their own rendition and there isn’t one way to do it,” she said.

Thirty-seven actors, a percussion ensemble of six, and a crew of 12 joined forces to transport audiences to Inverness. aka Graduation Terrace. With the backdrop of towering trees and a cool breeze whispering secrets, the cast and crew brought to life the tragic tale beneath the open sky. With every line delivered and every clash of sword, the untamed power of Shakespeare’s timeless masterpiece roared to life, leaving an indelible mark on all who witnessed this extraordinary fusion of Masters theater and the great outdoors.

“Performing outdoors was a unique experience. It required everyone to be proficient in so many acting skills all at once,” said Ana Carolina Queiroz '23, who for two nights played Lennox, a thane who serves King Duncan, and for the other two nights, played Siward, the Earl of Northumberland. “We had to think about speaking out to the audience, adjusting the set depending on the weather, and speaking loud enough for everyone to hear us.” 

When she wasn’t on stage, Queiroz was working behind the scenes as the show’s makeup director. One of the biggest challenges, she said, was figuring out how to “create realistic scars and bruises for all the actors that needed it.” She also knew she had to do something special for the witches: “I wanted to make them look as ‘otherworldly’ as possible. I wanted to make their features very sharp and bold so you could tell right off the bat that they are very powerful characters that have a huge stake in the show,” she said.

The witches weren’t the only ones with a huge stake in the show. O’Connor confessed that “Trying to make Shakespeare clear outside is like the decathlon of theater — you have to be excellent at so many different skills for the performance to work. The students are doing something so difficult with an incredibly high level of skill, without ever losing their love for each other or the sheer fun of bringing a story to life for an audience.”