Old Boys Take Centre Stage in Eton's Lower School production of Macbeth

18 June 2018

 

Caldicott Old Boys performed in Eton's Lower School production of Macbeth recently. Head of Drama, Jo Duncan, gives us her views plus an interview with the boys.

"I bear a charmed life", this thought certainly crossed our minds, as we witnessed Eton's Lower School production of Macbeth, a production directed by Mr Scott Hurran. The modern setting gave a fresh perspective on this classic. It was a thrill to see such a fast-paced and energetic production, from the frenetic opening fight scene to the inspired Karaoke rendition of Highway to Hell! The Caldicott Old Boys certainly did us proud.

Monty Glyn's Macbeth prowled across the stage, his intimidating presence dominating every scene; yet through his soliloquies he also demonstrated a vulnerability that greatly enhanced his focused delivery. Greg Cusworth's Banquo was a suitably sympathetic figure, (more than) holding his own in the fight scenes, yet his macabre presence at the party was truly chilling.  Jack Symonds and Oliver Crewdson also put in excellent performances in what was a remarkably talented ensemble cast. The live music and the use of lighting within the simple set heightened the tension and kept the audience enthralled. What an incredible opportunity it must have been for all the boys involved.

Director, Scott Hurran gave us his views on Shakespeare and how drama works at Eton:

I think its really important to develop a deep understanding of a Shakespeare play, and then you have the power to throw out the rule book. It was always my aim to create a production that was visually exciting to watch, fast paced, and full of horror. I think all the boys involved pulled that off. There are multiple opportunities to get involved in drama at Eton, it's a thrilling experience being part of a company, whether you're interested in acting, lighting, sound, special effects, make-up, costume or stage management.  My main advice to boys interested in drama, is to have the confidence to put yourself forward and make that choice.’

We were also delighted to be able to ask Old Boys Oliver Crewdson, Monty Glyn and Greg Cusworth about the production and what advice they have for Caldicott boys interested in performance.

What memories do you have of Drama at Caldicott?

  • Oliver - I have very fond memories of Drama at Caldicott having been in the school play both times I was able. I will always remember the quality of teaching and eagerness to make the show its best. Culminating in a great rendition of Guys and Dolls, which, to this day, remains one of the best productions I have ever worked on. As well as this, I took a LAMDA Level 4 exam and, thanks to great help, managed to get a distinction having never done LAMDA before.
  • Monty - Performing in Guys and Dolls in the 6th Form. 
  • Greg - I really enjoyed my drama at Caldicott. I played Midas in the Junior School, Maria in Twelfth Night and was the MC in Guys and Dolls. Outside of Caldicott, I had a part as an extra in Downton Abbey and was Peter Pan’s double in the film Pan – a particular highlight was doing a fight scene with Hugh Jackman! 

What were auditions like for Macbeth?

  • Oliver - Auditions were fairly standard for a school drama piece. We were split into groups with various parts and asked to act them out in our own ways. It was actually a great system as I felt the cast was very acute to each role (and that second apparition was incredible).
  • Monty - I had three auditions in total. The first was simply asking us to perform a scene with the script and see what we could do. The second, we took a scene and played both characters in it. For the final audition, I was asked to learn a speech as Macbeth and perform it.

How would you describe Eton's production of Macbeth?

  • Oliver - I'd like to think it was ok. Obviously, Eton being Eton there was a tremendous team almost entirely represented by boys on lighting, stage management and sound. As well as a great director and brilliant cast.
  • Monty - The production of any Shakespeare play today has to keep the interest of a modern audience. We used karaoke and modern music and lighting. It was a full on 70 minutes and each scene was relatively short. Before each performance, you were called to the theatre at 1730. You would relax and get in the zone for the play in 30 minutes. Then you would iron out any problems in the scenes or things you could improve on. After costumes were put on and make up applied, you warmed up and then you were on.
  • Greg - I had a number of fight scenes which required us to train. We went to The National Theatre to learn and practise the scenes, which was a fantastic experience. I also really enjoyed the modern twist given to the production

What advice would you give to younger boys looking to be involved in Drama?

  • Oliver - Just to try and go for it; audition for everything you can. Although I was originally quite disappointed with my role in Macbeth and its size, it has actually led to me being cast in a bigger role in my house play, as the director of that saw the production. It will all pay off eventually.
  • Monty - I was always never quite sure whether to go for plays or not, there is obviously an element of fear. I just enjoyed this element and unlike maths or science, there isn’t a wrong answer, it’s open to interpretations and once you’re on that stage it’s completely your choice. Throw out ideas and don’t be afraid. 
  • Greg - I would just advise anyone interested in drama to always put yourself forward and audition, as there is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What do you have planned next?

  • Oliver - To keep on acting as it is fun. I have a role in the upcoming production of Mark Twain's Is he dead? and I intend to just keep going. Drama is such a high standard at Eton and it is a pleasure to be a part of.
  • Monty - At the moment I’m taking a break from plays to focus on GCSEs and sport but in eight months I will try for the school play.
  • Greg - I've just auditioned for the school play The Crucible coming up in the Autumn Term. I am going to be Tituba and very much looking forward to it.

Old Boys in Eton's Macbeth

Production Photos: Eton College

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