MADURAI SEED is unique in developing three domains of educational activities such as Cognitive, Affective and Psychomotor skills of Children and Young People. They get variety of exposures through, field trips, summer camps, club activities, and visits of foreigners and so on. Likewise, there are skills and personality development programs to elicit the innate potential of each child. Storytelling, poem writing, book reading, short movies making, theatre acting are included in their routine weekend activities. Those programs focus mainly to identify their hidden talents and to pass a beam of light in their path.
There is always a need for tools to take the literature knowledge to the children. These tools are theatrics, dramatics and street plays which stimulate their mind to obtain literature knowledge and also they act as a catalyst in learning literature and arts.
Last year, a group of young girls and boys in Madurai Seed presented a theatre act on “Women Empowerment” at the American College. Six groups of children from I to X std staged Six dramas in front of Prof. Ilango on world theatre day, in the same year. Those dramas were the stories from the famous English and Tamil writers.
Children spend every weekend with bilingual books, translation novels, leaders’ biographies, comics, short story books, and poems. They first read and then narrate the story to their peer groups. Sometimes they read in groups and act it out to the audience. They develop creative skills by narrating their own stories. When they find their own stories in Madurai Seed journal, they find unlimited happiness.
During a reading session in Madurai Seed library about Shakespeare and his role in English literature, we came across reading summary about his various plays like Romeo-Juliet, Macbeth, Julius Ceaser, and Merchant of Venice. We also came to knew that it was Shakespeare’s 400th death anniversary. So, MS young people took interests to stage a play of him.
To commemorate 400th death anniversary of Shakespeare and to take his plays on the hands of our children, Madurai Seed organized a theatre workshop to stage one of the famous tragic plays of him, “MACBETH”.
From 11.07.16 to 15.07.16, Theatre Workshop was given to 23 young people in Madurai Seed. Four days and five evenings, they took part in the workshop actively. This theatre workshop was organized and carried out by Mrs. V. Elavarasi, Mr. Vadivel & Mr. A.S. Karthik Bharathi.
Introducing a Play:The plot of the story was narrated to the group of young people and then they begun reading about each character in the “Macbeth” book (In our library, we have Shakespeare’s books on various levels according to readers. We selected level 3 to read and understand easily.)
The theme:“Macbeth, a brave Scottish general, manipulated by his wife, kills Duncan and takes the throne. Afterwards, his guilt and fear leads him to commit murders to secure his power, which leads to his downfall and finally he was killed by Mac duff and the throne was back in the right hands”
Analyzing the characters:After reading and understanding the characters of the play, the drama techniques were discussed and they plunged into action. Castings for this play were selected based on their performances, given character names and proper information about the sequence of the play.
An English play in our Mother TongueThrough dialogue, soliloquies, and directions, characters of this play were analyzed. We explored Shakespeare’s play with scripts in Tamil. Executing his play in Tamil would create curiosity and closeness to English plays. So, dialogue sheets were given to them in Tamil. Since, dialogue gives information about the past and subsequent events, more time was provided for them to recite and deliver.
Practice makes performance perfect:Regular practice was given to the young people (artists) to deliver dialogues, to use props, to use stage and to show development throughout the play. They were given dialogue sheets individually. After they read it, they were given practice to act out the dialogue spontaneously. The reactions for other character’s actions were also included while practicing spontaneity.
As this was a big play with much number of scenes, visualizing the sequence of scenes was important to produce the play without cuts and intervals. For that, the artists practiced the whole play again and again to remember the sequence.
Between each scene, the wooden boxes (sets) on stage have to be changed according to the place where the scene happened. Six boys practiced to keep the boxes in right position, as to show where the actors meet and talk.
Apart from the stage settings, actors were given practice to use swords and daggers. The play begun with soldiers fighting in the battle field, where they had to fight with swords and the play ends with Macbeth and Mac duff fight scenes. Though fighting with swords was difficult, with regular practice it seemed that they fought not acted.
Body language and stage awareness are more important for an artist. Drills on how to stand on stage, how to keep eye contact with the other character, how to deliver dialogues with correct intonations, how to enter and exit from the stage were given.
Soliloquy and monologue were the two main elements in this play. Both were practiced by solitary speakers Kowsalya as Lady Macbeth and Wasim as Macbeth. Though it was a new experience for them, they impressed like the real characters of this play. All these, took five days to produce “Macbeth”.
Productions:Properties in the play: The main thing a play can be unique by the usage of props on stage. In our play, we used six rectangular wooden boxes (sets) of white and black shades. These gave a different view scene by scene. For example, if it was a palace, two wooden boxes were placed to look like a throne. If it has to be look like three witches’ place those six boxes were arranged like pillars to hide and sing “Foul is fair, fair is foul…” Along with the actors, these static props impressed the audience.
Music in the play: To bring the difference between a usual drama and a stage play like this, a collection of music from various sites was played lively. As this is a tragic play, the background music with sad violin could score the audience. But, additional to that, music using parai was played in between each scene. In fact, that evening was thrilling when the witches entered with high pitches of devil music and sounds of thunder.
Costumes for the actors: It was very interesting to design the costumes for the actors in the play. Designing soldiers’ dresses, witches’ black gown, especially King’s costume was challengeable because Shakespeare period’s protagonist and all other actors were dressed differently. And it was little difficult to show our Macbeth character as a real Shakespeare’s Macbeth. But, we managed and it came out very well. We went to the garments, selected materials and designed perfect costume for every artist in the play.
Stage: All the elements of a play like background music, dialogues, costumes can work together very effective when executed on a stage with proper view of the audience. Also, it would enhance the performance. For that, we planned to stage it in CESCI, where there is a big space to perform.
Targeted Audience: Staging a play is definitely for the audience view. It may be peer groups, experienced theatre artists, cine directors, etc., but for this play, the audience were mixed group of people, Ms. Andrea Wilson from Zurich, Prof. Prabahar from The American College, Mr. Thanraj Radhai, Teachers, Kids & so on.
Rehearsal: After continuous practice during the workshop, all young people had a run-through at CESCI ON 16.07.16. They stayed there for two days and two nights. They took one day for rehearsal, and next day for dress rehearsal and that evening to stage “Macbeth”. During rehearsals, they corrected their mistakes, they measured the stage with their eyes and they used swords made of steel for fight scenes. Fun gone and seriousness came in their face during dress rehearsals. Full run through with their costumes brought confidence that there hides an artist in every one.
Executing “Macbeth” on stage:The flash that appeared in our mind to stage the play of Shakespeare turned into rays of light when our Young People staged it first at CESCI ON 17.07.16. The big auditorium with various levels of spectators welcomed the artists in the evening. The play begun from the battle field where soldiers fought, then the scene becomes interesting with the witches entry, the play moved on with the success, guilt, fear of the protagonist, his defeat and the victory of Scottish Prince.
Audience appreciated the performance of the actors, the stage settings, fight sequences, music, and very much impressed by the soliloquy of Kowsalya as Lady Macbeth and the performance of Wasim Khan as Macbeth. Our first staging of “Macbeth” play was really an appreciative effort and so it received big rounds of applauses. THANK YOU.
Documented by V. Elavarasi