I had the good fortune to join fifty high school students in attending a performance of The Scottish Play at The Guthrie last week. Quite wonderfully, that’s almost three fourths of our high school population signing up for a day at the theater.
The outing started with an entertaining introduction and synopsis of the play by one of the cast. As part of his 15 minute summary, he reminded us of the tradition of avoiding using the tragedies proper title on superstitious grounds. He suggested we refer to our tragic lead as Big Mac! His synopsis was followed up with an outline of the historical context behind the play and Shakespeare’s ability to blend together various royal characters in the creation of his story.
The play itself was marvelous. As I said in a previous post, the last time I saw Big Mac was back in my own school days. I was reminded of why I like the play so much. On the page, the poetry of the language is so rich that it’s riveting enough as a reading exercise. Indeed, Scott’s seminar group was thoroughly engaged as they worked through the text together. On stage, the sheer power and energy of the play is brought to bear. It was a gripping, two hour performance without an interval – a deliberate ploy by the director to avoid any interruption to the flow of the play.
Although our decision to stay for the question and answer with the audience meant that we missed our own stop at MacStop for a Big Mac on the way home (sorry students), I think it was well worthwhile to have the chance to quiz the cast of their performance. Not surprisingly to me, this always happens, the ARTech students were asking the most questions and offering the most comments. They were engaged.
A great play. If you get a chance to get over to The Guthrie to see it before this run ends on April 3 I would strongly recommend you do so. As for ARTech’s theater program, Bob now shifts our focus from Big Mac to Big Mary – the ARTech spring production.