A drum, a drum, Macbeth doth come

This will be an especially short blog post but I wanted to write something to acknowledge Tara Arts Macbeth, which came to Swansea’s Taliesin on Thursday. Some of my students were probably (hopefully) in attendance for both the production and a special (and very interesting) talk given by the director, Jatinder Verma. I don’t want to write a full review, but thought I’d make a few broad comments – if any students happen to be reading, they are welcome (indeed, encouraged!) to continue the conversation in the comments box.

1. The witches, described in the production blurb as ‘outrageous drag-queens’, were hirjas – a legally recognized third gender in modern India. In a BBC article about the Indian Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, hirjas are described in terms which perhaps resonate with the position of the witches:

Campaigners say they live on the fringes of society, often in poverty, ostracised because of their gender identity. Most make a living by singing and dancing or by begging and prostitution.

2. The production employed an onstage percussionist (hence the blog post title – I couldn’t resist). This helped to create an eerie atmosphere. The crash of the symbol which brought an end to Macbeth’s ‘If it were done’ soliloquy was especially effective.

3. Macbeth is a tricky part to play: an actor might be tempted to ramp up the intensity from the beginning (after all, in his first scene, Macbeth talks of how his ‘seated heart’ knocks ‘at his ribs’) but this often means that the actor has nowhere to go. Robert Moutford managed to avoid this: his Macbeth was a thinker and a poet, not ‘just’ a soldier.

4. In most productions of Macbeth, Macbeth and Macduff leave the stage fighting. Macbeth is often killed offstage. At the end of the Tara Arts show, Macbeth seemed to give in and allowed himself to be killed. In his talk, Jatinder suggested that Macbeth had lost a piece of himself when his wife died. Here, he gave himself up to fate, but was he preparing for a post-death reunion with Lady Macbeth?

That’s all I’m going to say for now, but there’s lots more to discuss (I’ve said nothing, for example, about the doubling of parts). Tara Arts remain on tour until May. You can see the full schedule here. Catch it, if you can.

Tara Arts Display

IMAGE: Tara Arts display, set up at Swansea’s Taliesin.

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