The False Proscenium; Kean, Macbeth, and Marbett in England, Summer 2007

By Godwin, Laura Grace | Shakespeare Bulletin, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

The False Proscenium; Kean, Macbeth, and Marbett in England, Summer 2007


Godwin, Laura Grace, Shakespeare Bulletin


Kean

Presented at the Apollo Theatre, London, England. May 30-July 14 2007. Directed by Adrian Noble. Designed by Mark Thompson. Lighting by Oliver Fenwick. Sound by John Leonard. With Barry McCarthy (Major Domo), Joanne Pearce (Elena, Countess de Koefeld), Gemma Page (Amy, Countess of Gosswill), Robert East (Count de Koefeld), Alex Avery (The Prince of Wales), Antony Sher (Edmund Kean), Sam Kelly (Solomon), Jane Murphy (Anne Danby), Barry McCarthy (Peter Potts), Brendan Hooper (Lord Nevill), Hanne Steen (Sadie), and Oliver Beamish (Darius).

Macbeth

Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, England. April 11-July 21 2007. Directed by Conall Morrison. Set Designed by Tom Piper. Costumes designed by Joan O'Cleary. Lighting designed by Ben Ormerod. Music composed by Conor Linehan. Sound designed by Mike Compton. Movement by Michael Ashcroft. Fights directed by Malcolm Ranson. With David Troughton (Duncan, Old Siward), Emmanuel Ighodaro (Malcolm), Ryan Gage (Donalbain, Young Siward), Patrick O'Kane (Macbeth), Jude Akuwudike (Banquo), Brian Doherty (Macduff), Sam Cox (Lennox), Sean Kearns (Ross), Richard Atwill (Menteith), Joel Trill (Angus), Jason Nwoga (Caithness), Josh de Souza/Olujimi Oluwole (Fleance), Mark Theodore (Seyton, Bleeding Captain), Gus Gillespie/Asher Hardy (Young Macduff), Thane Bettany (Doctor), Derbhle Crotty (Lady Macbeth), Pauline Hutton (Lady Macduff), Sarah Malin (Witch), Mojisola Adebayo (Witch), and Frances Ashman (Witch).

Macbett

Presented by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, England. May 25-July 21 2007. Directed by Silviu Pucarete. Set and lighting designed by Helmut Sturmer. Costumes designed by Lia Mantoc. Music composed by Vasile Sirli. Sound designed by Mike Compton. With Mojisola Adebayo (2nd Sick Man), Jude Akuwudike (Glamiss), Frances Ashman (Maid, Witch 2), Richard Atwill (1st Solider, 1st Servant), Thane Bettany (Macol), Sam Cox (Candor), Derbhle Crotty (Lady Duncan), Brian Doherty (Officer), Ryan Gage (2nd Soldier, 2nd Servant), Pauline Hutton (Serving Girl, 1st Townswoman), Emmanuel Ighodaro (1st Sick Man), Sean Kearns (Banco), Sarah Malin (Passing Woman, Lemonade Man, Butterfly Catcher, Rag Man), Jason Nwoga (3rd Soldier), Patrick O'Kane (Duncan), Mark Theodore (Wounded Soldier), Joel Trill (Bat Boy), and David Troughton (Macbett).

In the more than 2000-year history of the theatre, the proscenium arch is a relatively recent invention. Made necessary and desirable with the introduction of illusionistic scenery, the proscenium arch frames and contextualizes the world on the stage and separates that world from the world of the observing spectator. The form has dominated theatrical architecture for more than three hundred years, and although it has recently fallen from favor, three recent productions have proven--both literally and figuratively--that the proscenium's frame can still be a powerful source of theatrical meaning.

In 2007, the Royal Shakespeare Company began the process of replacing its oft-maligned proscenium theatre with a modified thrust configuration much like that already available in the wildly successful Swan Theatre. The plan to renovate the Royal Shakespeare Theatre was first proposed during the tumultuous final act of Adrian Noble's tenure as the Company's artistic director, so it is perhaps ironic that in Noble's West End production of Kean the director not only worked within the ornately prosceniumed confines of the Apollo Theatre, but also that his design added an additional gilded proscenium complete with its own red velvet curtain. Even when the false proscenium had been whisked away in a stunningly fluid scene change, the idea of the frame lingered in the form of the enormous, golden makeup mirror that dominated Kean's onstage dressing room. The stage thus became the theatrical equivalent of a Matryoshka doll or Peer Gynt's endless onion, each frame revealing yet another frame inside. …

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