Our performance was to be held in the loading bay area at 55 Shiloh Rd, and we were excited to be the first live performance at our new space. Our plan was to transport the audience to the wild moors of Scotland on the dread dark night when Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches. No small feat considering that the performance had to be scheduled during daylight hours.
A high priority for the actors was weaponry, and seeing as this is a story of murder and intrigue our first task was to create shields and swords. We are fortunate to be located so close to a cardboard dumpster and many trips were made. Shields were constructed of two layers of corrugated cardboard painted with emblems that reflected the personalities of Macbeth and Duncan, portrayed by brothers Jack and Gallagher, already experts at dastardly plots and general fiendishness. Swords were made with yardsticks and duct tape spray painted silver.
The concrete floor and brick walls of the loading bay area posed an interesting challenge - unlike a typical stage, we wouldn't be able to easily drill into wood and secure pieces of the set. We compromised by attaching set pieces to two of the Covid 'bubbles' we had constructed earlier in the year for social distancing. At first this seemed like a good idea.
Costuming was the next priority and the challenge was to find furs fit for Scottish Thanes, vests and leggings for villagers (perhaps redundant, are there any shows without vests?), and something suitably dramatic for Lady M. Most actors had more than one role so quick changes had to be accounted for.
The Magic Coin was set to dovetail into Macbeth - a genius and bold move from directors Mary and Wolfe. The story had been rewritten to be set in the modern day at a lemonade stand during a neighborhood trick or treat, this way almost everyone could wear their Macbeth costumes and be the kind of trick or treaters that are also clearly theatre nerds. Lemonade was served out of a large plastic cauldron with construction paper flames, which made an easy transition to the iconic BUBBLE BUBBLE TOIL AND TROUBLE scene. A wheeled school desk wrapped in cardboard, painted as a bonfire with a sign announcing 50c lemonade allowed us to easily roll the lemonade stand onto the set. The cast agreed that the sign should be spelled incorrectly as evidence that our protagonist was 'just a kid doing their best despite the odds'.
Tech week rolled around, as did Fall weather and we were unprepared for the breeze. The Covid bubbles now dressed up as desolate wilderness were no match for these autumn zephyrs. With the kind of ingenuity born of desperation set pieces were lashed to heavy industrial fans using belts and zipties.
We will be forever grateful that Mary's mom Karen agreed to be our literal anchor for this show.
The cast triumphed despite the set and a number of costume items being intermittently airborne, the sudden drop in temperature, and the challenges of projecting Shakesperian dialogue into a parking lot close to a highway. All in all, a fantastic start to our Fall series of outdoor performances.