For its first theatrical production, Mountain Middle School has set the bar for future shows pretty high with its staging of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”
“Macbeth,” the classic tragedy of what happens when power goes unchecked, is being staged as part of one of Mountain’s Student Interest Group classes. The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students began rehearsing the play before the holiday break in December.
“Seven years ago when I walked into this building, I looked at the stage and wanted to do Shakespeare,” said Todd Macon, sixth-grade teacher and producer of the show. “I was surprised at how much the kids got it, the lessons that are in this play.”
The version the students are performing, while pared down to about an hour, doesn’t shy away from the Bard’s poetic language, something that seemed a little daunting at the beginning.
“It was a little tough to understand at first; it sounded like it was just thrown in there randomly,” said sixth-grader Abi Dendy, who plays one of the witches.
“Now, it makes more sense because we’ve been rehearsing it,” said fellow witch and sixth-grader Mia Macon, who is Todd Macon’s daughter. “Getting into the character was really challenging.”
Directing the play is Jason Lythgoe, who has been teaching theater to children for years, most recently at the Durango Arts Center.
“When I started teaching about eight, nine years ago, I had an idea that I really wanted to share my love of what I do, and so I went, ‘Let’s find a way to tell this story (in a way) that’s doable for this age group,’” he said. “It’s been this passion project of mine for a couple of years that I’ve taken a few of these different shorter and cut versions of the script and kind of shuffled them together ... and found a way to do the whole show in an hour, which is tough to do, but it was really neat to see the language still intact and see some of the pentameter in there.”
For Lythgoe, challenging the students was something they really responded to, and he said he’s excited to share the result of their hard work. In fact, he said, the play was a collaboration between him, Macon and the students, who came up with ideas for costumes and sets.
“Finally getting an audience in there is going to be awesome,” he said. “These kids have worked so hard over these last few months, but until you get that audience in there, you have no idea if what you’re doing is going to read, is going to translate to an audience.”
And a cool side note, Macon said, is that “Macbeth” comes with a lot of superstition. “Actors usually won’t utter the name of the play onstage because it’s supposed to be bad luck,” he said. “And we’re performing it on Friday the 13th.” (The class’ adopted name is Troupe Triskaidekaphobic, which is fear of the number 13.)