Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Brian Feldman's William Shakespeare's Macbeth

It is a tale
Told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

I went to sketch a one man performance of Macbeth at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola Park (99 N Rosalind Ave, Orlando, Florida 32801). Several smart phones were set up on tripods to live stream the performance. The program came complete with a set of ear plugs which was a mystery at first. Brian Feldman took to the band shell stage covered in protective gear, another mystery. He held a script and was about to perform the play solo acting out every part. Brian made his acting debut in 1991 in Macbeth on the Lake Eola stage as a child actor.

Actors consider it bad luck to say Macbeth in a theater. Neil Barnes from Essex explained it this way, "Theatrical folklore has it that, as revenge for Shakespeare's inclusion of a number of accurate spells within the play, a coven of witches cursed it for all eternity. Whether or not you believe this rationale is irrelevant, though, because the ill-fortune associated with the play is backed up by numerous examples over its four hundred year history Initially, King James banned the play for five years because he had such a dislike for it, but there are also more bloody examples: there was an unpleasant and lethal riot after one showing in nineteenth century New York and one Lady Macbeth fell off the front of the stage while sleepwalking, dropping nearly twenty feet. Even Olivier wasn't free from the curse, as one of his performances was enlivened by a falling stage weight which landed only inches from him mid-performance. Given the weight of evidence, it's not surprising that actors are given to indulge in a little superstition." Others explained that if tickets for a particular play were not selling well, the theater owners would end the run and replace it with the ever popular Macbeth. Either way, you will never hear an actor utter "Macbeth" inside a theater.

Granted the Lake Eola Band Shell is outside, but years ago this is where Shakespeare plays were performed before the Shakes moved into the theater in Lock Haven Park. I saw a production here when I first moved to Orlando back in 1994.

Brian began his performance. The first word he uttered was, "Macbeth" followed by "Macbeth" and then "Macbeth". He held the full script in his hands and read the entire play replacing each word with "Macbeth" and trying to maintain the emotion and relevance of each line. He was tempting fate with each word he uttered. At times Macbeths got tangled together as he trued to say them in quick succession. Now the ear plugs made sense. Hearing this endless litany of Macbeths could drive a person mad. I might have missed a few of the plot twists as I focused on my sketch.

The play in all runs about 69 minutes and I was chucking to myself the entire time despite the tragedy being acted out on stage. Irene Pynn produced and directed the production. As she said in the program, "The process was more conceptual than straightforward. Less 'Give me a stronger emphasis on the third line' and more, 'How many people will curse us for doing this?'"

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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