Drama and the performing arts continues to go from strength to strength at Harrow Shanghai and at the end of March, Harrow staged two performances of Shakespeare’s Macbeth as its second major drama production.
Why Shakespeare, you might ask? Well, Shakespeare was writing at a time when the language we would come to know as modern English was still relatively new. Shakespeare’s plays, alongside the King James Bible (also published during Shakespeare’s lifetime) are widely considered to have had considerable influence on the development and standardisation of the modern English language.
Macbeth draws on several themes that have considerable resonance in the modern world. Written during the reign of a deeply unpopular monarch, when former political certainties were being challenged, in the aftermath of a failed terrorist attack on the Houses of Parliament and when the relationship between England and Scotland was being debated, Macbeth has much to say to modern audiences, nearly 500 years after it was written.
Harrow Shanghai is firmly committed to a policy of inclusivity in all aspects of the Performing Arts. A real strength of this production was that all the pupils in the Prep and Senior Schools were involved in the performance. As part of the rehearsal process, the pupils had studied the principal themes of the play during their Performing Arts lessons and then during LiA activity time, and rehearsed and directed the majority of the scenes themselves.
Particular thanks must go to Mr Lacey, for his work with the pupils in designing and construction the set for the production. The numerous hanging candles in the drama studio helped to provide a particularly intimate setting for the audience. This was especially appropriate, as in Shakespeare’s time, candles had only recent begun to be used in playhouses. A particularly striking element was the two outdoor scenes, featuring the three witches, that started each half of the performance. The area outside of the drama studio was transformed into an evocative windswept Scottish heath, complete with a fiery cauldron. Another vote of thanks should go to Mr Littler, for procuring some chemicals from the science department, to give the fire a sinister green glow.
However, the greatest vote of thanks must, of course, go to the Harrow pupils themselves. Their enthusiasm, dedication and commitment throughout the rehearsals and performances was outstanding.