And of course one can say to oneself, “I will post one more thing to that blog, and then I will be done with it, more or less,” and then one posts, and one suddenly wants to post more. So I will tell you about something we saw on our honeymoon: Macbeth at Fort Point, San Francisco, from We Players.
This was a full production of Macbeth, staged in Fort Point, a Civil War-era fort built to protect San Francisco from threats that ultimately never materialized. The fort is now a national historic site, and is quite beautiful if you like old things, standing under the Golden Gate Bridge, and the sound of waves crashing upon the shore, not to mention a killer view of the city.
This was an immersive production; there was minimal participation in the show (more on this later), but the play itself took place on the move, sometimes with several scenes going on at once. The audience was split into two groups (crescents and diamonds), and each had a leader to follow. The groups were together for major scenes, and when we separated, we got to explore the three levels of the fort as we traveled to the different locations. There was walking, but there was also running up and down narrow flights of stairs - quite exhilerating. There was also music - a creepy ensemble of horns and drums. We also rejoined each other for Banquo’s banquet scene, where we were treated to cheese, crackers, fruit, and spiced tea.
The design of the play was beautiful. The men wore uniforms that echoed Civil War military dress. Everyone’s colors were meant to evoke aspects of the Fort; each of the three Weird Sisters’s costumes was meant to represent one of the major lichens that have taken over the brickwork in the fort - white, green, and rust-colored. Duncan’s fantastic shaggy cape and uniform were the color of the bricks, to represent his importance to the structure of the play. The elements enhanced the play as well; as the sun set and the play got darker, the fort got colder, the wind picked up and the shadows made the little fort seem more and more sinister. The scene where Macduff’s wife and children was murdered was easily the hardest to watch; they did not hold back with the screaming. It was also one of the scenes where we were split up, so while we were in England with Macduff we got to hear his family get murdered again in the distance - heartbraking.
As I mentioned, there was some interaction. Towards the end of the play, those of us who had volunteered at the beginning were brought into the entrance to the Fort and given branches, screamed at a bit, and made to charge at Macbeth - we were Burnam Woods. There was also a part (after the aforementioned slaughter) where the white lichen witch held my hand, which made me smile.
The acting was good. Macbeth was not my favorite Macbeth; his “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech was woefully flippant, but he had a lot of energy. He made you want to like him. Lady Macbeth and Macduff were quite good, as was Malcolm. And the three witches were delightfully creepy; they got to play with a lot of messy things during their scenes.
I wish I could recommend that everyone go, but this production has ended. However, if you’re in California, keep an eye on We Players’ site for this year’s production; their past repertoire is Shakespeare-heavy, so who knows what 2014 will bring!
ETA: My favorite part of writing this post was looking at the pictures again. It was a REALLY fun night!