News Story

We’re back! Macbeth (an undoing) is back in the rehearsal room and that means we get to follow its journey again (albeit a little shorter this time) from page to stage. Three stages to be exact - London, New York and back home Edinburgh.

I joined the team at the end of week 1 of rehearsals, thinking I would go in and see the same show as before being rehearsed, but I was so wrong. Re-staging a play isn’t as simple as just re-doing what was there before, there is a lot that has changed, not only in the script and welcoming some new cast members but also how the show looks in Zinnie’s head. The beauty of being able to revisit a show is that things that the director wishes they did can now be done and there is more time to dissect the script and characters. Ask Zinnie, revisiting Macbeth is a challenging process and one that has taken planning and a lot of thought but such an exciting opportunity to revisit a show and do what you wish you had done last time. Hindsight is wonderful and she can now act on it and try things out with her incredible company.

Now, the (five star, award-winning) show was a year ago, so things have been forgotten (not lines evidentially) like where people are, who moves the chair and where the daggers go, so to help with this there is a video of the show which is used throughout rehearsals to remind everyone of those moments. There is also a new show ‘bible’ which all lighting and sound cues are transferred to as well as set movement cues for the new DSM (deputy stage manager) which will travel with the show and be used to set up and run in every venue.

The show is touring this time around. After rehearsing here, the team are headed to The Rose theatre in London and then on to Theatre for a New Audience in New York before returning home to The Lyceum to end the run. Because of this, the rehearsal room is set up differently to last time, partly because the other stages they are performing on are different, so the group are rehearsing for those spaces, but also, so the show feels new. There is always an element of keeping things the same so that actors feel comfortable with what is happening, and lines can be remembered but by knowing the show it can sometimes be easier to play around and try new things – something that there is often not enough time for when staging a brand new show the first time around.

Are you planning on re-visiting a show with the same/new cast? During their busy day, I managed to find time to grab Marc Mackinnon, who you will know as King Duncan, who was able to give me some helpful tips for you when it comes to re-staging a show.

We have new cast members for this tour, so we are making new discoveries in the rehearsal room, and discovering more about our own characters and what role they truly play within the world we are creating in this version. It’s amazing how much subtext lies between the words that Zinnie – and indeed Shakespeare – have written, so constantly discovering that keeps the show fresh for us all.

And here are some bonus tips from us:

  • Issue new scripts with no notes in them for the cast.
  • Reconfigure the space / turn the room around so the stage faces a different way
  • Find new meaning behind the lines being said rather than repeating how it was done before / don’t get stuck on saying lines exactly as written.
  • Be open to things no longer working now revisiting (remember to justify change, don’t do it just to make it different – there should always be a reason)

Stay tuned because next time I’ll be talking to our gorgeous stage management team who will give you the low-down on all the challenges and excitement of touring a production before we say bon voyage!