The Making of Macbeth
The Upper School’s recent performance of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” evolved from a few actors on stage to a full-fledged theatrical production, with the help of a small army of volunteers.
The real magic of a theatrical performance, one might argue, doesn’t happen on stage. It happens behind the scenes—when volunteers are painting and building the set, actors are memorizing lines, and technicians are designing the lighting. The finished product is a culmination of Herculean efforts from all walks of the University School of Milwaukee community.
The first performance of “Macbeth” was held on Oct. 24, 2019, but planning had been underway months in advance. Mark Edwards, Upper School drama teacher and the show’s director, held auditions in May and selected his cast before the end of last school year. Over the course of the summer, Edwards exchanged set design ideas with Joshua Miller, theatre technical director, who was hired in July. Upper School Administrative Assistant Mark Conner, who also serves as USM’s costume maker, began his research in the summer and completed the bulk of his sewing by mid-September, in time for cast fittings.
The actors started rehearsing on the first day of school (Aug. 27), but the work wasn’t over when rehearsals ended. “I’d spend several hours every night working on my lines,” said Connor Findlay ’22, who played Macbeth. “I’d walk around in my room or actually walk outside at like, 1 a.m. just to get it in my brain.” Added Margaret Rankin ’21, who played Lady Macbeth, “Shakespeare is difficult to memorize, and you also have to understand what you’re saying and add meaning to it.”
When the show is over and the final curtain has fallen, the students must feel some relief, right? “Actually, I’ll feel sad when it’s over,” said Findlay. “Me too,” added Rankin. “We have so much fun. The sense of community and the bond you feel with your cast, I don’t get that anywhere else.”