Lady Macbeth of Inbetween
I’m Lady Macbeth. Or at least, I’ve been Lady Macbeth for 2 hours every week for a couple of months now. Since 15th of July to be precise, that’s when we got an email with our definite role assignments from our director Ruud, who had the final say in the casting after consulting with the Angel of Death and Ophelia.
“I was really excited and puzzled at the same time.”
So, I was going to play some old king’s wife from medieval times, who talked her husband into murdering the current king and has gone crazy of guilt afterwards? But not only that, at that time, we didn’t even know how our writer of the script (Ophelia) would fill in this character, who found herself dead in “Inbetween” together with her husband, right after the original Shakespeare piece ends, right after everything had gone south and she died of lack of sleep, and now we were going to add this totally new story to this famous character that had been impersonated by many great famous actresses before. And all this had to be decided until the end of September for the pre-selection rounds of the contest The Play of Nijmegen.
What added to the tension was that the pre-selections would be my second performance after I only had a minor role in our first play “Bedtime stories” last May. Before that, I was one of the elves in a midsummer night’s dream at age 11 in a school play. The only professional coaching I ever got was during the few valuables hours with our coach Marianne, one of the three jury members, who also coached another finalist “Het Linnen”. I also felt that we had one really big disadvantage compared to the other groups with regard to our preparations for the finals: We were 9 people on stage, most of them originated from totally different Shakespearian pieces, which meant that all had to get their scenes to introduce every role properly, which resulted in 15 scenes in total, which meant that we had to add 11 more scenes to the 4 scenes we already prepared for the pre-selections.
All that had to happen within 2 hour rehearsal sessions per week and three extra rehearsal days on weekends with only a couple of weeks left before the finals. For me as an individual this meant that I would have to share the sparse rehearsal time, the attention of our director and Coach Marianne with 8 other people. Furthermore, we had to squeeze 15 scenes into a 45 minute piece, so we had to use all our valuable stage time as efficiently as possible. There was almost no time to develop emotions during the scenes, which you can imagine is a huge problem in theatre. Now, I get why theatre performances sometimes seem so “theatrical”: for my crazy character, it felt as if I had to have some sort of bipolar disorder on speed with severe mood swings every 10 seconds.
But I wasn’t the only one in our group with difficulties. Everyone had their personal struggles: Ophelia was dreamy all the time, an inherent feature of her role. Sometimes she got so lost in her role that she didn’t hear or see what was happening around her. Romeo was this young inexperienced lad, with yet a lot of monologues and he experienced difficulties with remembering this lines (always at fixed points in the script). Juliet was a 13 year old innocent girl, who got seriously stressed out by Romeo’s struggle – with his text mostly. Her real-life fiancé was also not very amused to learn that she had even two kissing scenes. Cleopatra, well, after our original Cleopatra had to drop out after the pre-selections due to health problems, our new Cleopatra had only 3 weeks for integrating into the group and finding her character. King Macbeth joined our group and started acting only in July of this year, after we were desperately looking for another male actor. He found that even walking like a King is a serious skill that needs to be acquired. Angel of Death had to learn how to sit down in her tight corsage, squeezing her wings inbetween characters on a narrow rehearsal space while walking on high heels. Celeste, the kinky nerdy intern of Angel of Death, had to get coaching on talking slowly, because she naturally talks so fast that no one could understand her lines. Angel of Death and Celeste were the only characters who had to define their roles without any “role model”, as those were the only ones that were invented in the script. And to be perfectly honest, before the finals we did not have a single run-through in which everything went according to plan! Well, you can imagine my nerves on the morning of the finals…
The Day of The Finals
Like the day of our pre-selection round performance, we gathered at Othello’s place for dressing up and putting on some … well, a lot of make up! Our stage make up knowledge was mostly acquired on the internet (Thanks Celeste) and some previous performance experiences. But I believe we all looked fabulous! At least on the surface we did. You may imagine us chasing around, fighting for that left upper corner next to three other people in front of the mirror. “Has someone seen the brush??!?”, “Where is Romeo?! Romeo, you need make up!”, or imagine Cleopatra 30 minutes before departure: “Does someone have some aspirin? I’m getting a migraine! I’m already seeing light flashes”, or Ophelia 5 minutes before departure: “OMG, I’ve only finished my eyes! My hair, what about my hair?!”, or Juliet 1 minute before departure: “Do we have enough cars? It’s pouring outside! OMG guys, I can’t walk!!!” And I? I am always getting a nervous bladder and even 1 minute before we had to go on stage later, I ran off to the toilet!
“We were determined more than ever.”
After we finally arrived at the contest location De Verspiegeling half an hour before the performance, a third of our audience had already gathered in the hallway, staring at us as we passed by in our medieval gowns. Yes, we were quite the eye catcher during the contest. We’ve also been announced accordingly before the finals. Initially before the start of the contest, however, we went there with our minds set at “Hopefully, we are not going to lose terribly”. Don’t get me wrong, on the one hand we participated to win of course, while on the other we had no clue what to expect from the other contestants and what was going to be expected from us. After the success of the pre-selections, we figured that it was not going to be easy, but we were determined more than ever to bring home De Gouden Spiegel. But, we still had to go on stage first of course…
Although you may have expected some major screw ups after reading my intro, I have to disappoint you: Romeo did not forget his lines, Angel of Death did not stumble on her high heels and Macbeth walked like a king. Sure, there were a few things that could have gone more smoothly. For instance, the stage exit was hidden behind curtains and we only could guess where the exit was. During one scene, I had to run off stage and thereby almost added another kissing scene with the stage-wall to the play. Here and there, there were also a couple of lines that did not come out the way they were intended. Nevertheless, overall, I believe it went quite well! After all the distress, all the effort, all the disagreement about the little details and then agreement, and then some more fighting and making up again, we had managed to put a show on stage that everyone was feeling quite content with. Now, our work was done and everything was in the hands of the jury! The results were announced in a way that excitement and tension was created, but was still kept short and painless. And the winner was: “Het Linnen”! Yes, we were pretty disappointed on the one hand, but on the other, we were also happy about the valuable experience and feedback we got. We certainly learned a lot from our participation in the contest. And who knows? Maybe we are going to win De Gouden Spiegel next year – with the prequel of Inbetween?!
But first, we are looking forward to working on the extensions of our play and then performing the full version of Inbetween in May 2016! 🙂