MACBETH – Latin America Tour 2019
ADG Europe presents TNT Theatre Britain in:
by William Shakespeare
Latin America Tour 2019
TNT theatre Britain bring the most performed professional version of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy to Latin America in May 2019. Since it’s premier in 2001 this extraordinary and authentic production has been seen across the globe to great critical and popular acclaim.
Countries visited: Britain, Germany, the USA, China, Italy, Finland, Norway , Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Holland, Belgium, Malta, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Australia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Israel, Turkey, Costa Rica.
Underlined countries have had two or more national tours of TNT’s MACBETH.
More people in more countries have seen this production of MACBETH than any other since its premier in 2001.
LATIN AMERICA SCHEDULE 2019
Week of 6th May: Peru
Week of 13th May Chile
Dates include: May 15th Universidad de los Andes Santiago
17.05.19 German School Puerto Montt
Week of 20th May Costa Rica
Dates include 23rd May at the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica
Week of 27th May Columbia.
Director Paul Stebbings many awards include an MBE medal from Queen Elizabeth the Second, presented at Buckingham Palace for services to British Culture worldwide.
This version of MACBETH is a full blooded physical theatre, where the supernatural elements are given full play. The setting is a medieval Scotland, wild violent and storm tossed as Shakespeare intended. This is a witch driven world where humanity must seek out it’s higher moral values in war, love and politics. The production features an integrated musical score by noted composer Paul Flush. The style is fast and furious physical theatre with choreography from Canadian Jasmine Ellis. Martin Christopher returns to the title role, and has played the towering main role almost 200 times across the globe.
Banquo and the witches, Bergen Royal Castle, Norway
“I never knew Shakespeare could be so entertaining .” CNN TV
“TNT Theatre are known as the most popular touring theatre in the world” CHINA NATIONAL TV
“From the very first moment this version of MACBETH gripped the Japanese audience….the production is easily understood even by those whose first language is not English” JAPAN TIMES
“TNT are wonderfully unpredictable and marvellously inventive…they end with an image that defies description” The SCOTSMAN.
“World class theatre” The OBSERVER (Britain).
“Highly effective and charismatic theatre.” VILAGE VOICE NYC.
Most recent review:
“A production of Macbeth with strong visual imagery, powerful acting, a clear storyline and creative direction.”. LANDSBERGER TAGBLATT
KING LEAR – TNT’s first production to tour Latin America
Longer review: (In original English)
Palace Courtyard, Valletta
Every year, hundreds of Maltese students complain about the difficulty and uselessness of studying Shakespeare – a playwright whose work they are introduced to, often against much protestation, during those dreaded school exams.
The set play on the syllabus is Macbeth and every year, countless frazzled teachers try hard to convince them that the play is worth the read and the analysis. Therein lies the problem. The beauty of Shakespeare’s work – that which has firmly placed him in the canon of English literature, lies in the power of the language used. Not as a script, but as an interpretation of the script on stage. Shakespeare was a businessman as well as an artist – he knew what quality was required for his product to sell; and so does TNT Theatre Britain, whose production of Macbeth last Saturday proved to be a near-perfect performance.
Directed by Paul Stebbings, with an appropriately atmospheric original score by Paul Flush, this particular production is part of the Castle Tour – where the company travels the breath of Europe, touring and performing the play in the perfect setting – palaces and castles in different countries.
Mr Stebbings’ excellent direction included the effective use of wood tapping and drumming and finely choreographed danza de le muerte styled movements worked so well that the witches, were frightening in an eerily mesmeric way. What was so technically refined and a sight to marvel at in itself, was the use of character doubling in the performance, where Mr Tresser-Lavigne, Ms McPake and Ms Lee also played the Porter, Lady Macbeth and Malcolm respectively, while Ms Lee played a third character – Lady MacDuff too.
The lightening-quick changes which all three actors had to make were enough to keep the audience guessing as to whether there were actually just three actors or several – because their ability to adapt to the different characters they played was flawless.
Ms Lee had a particularly long list of minor characters to play – which she did incredibly well, while Mr Tressier-Lavigne’s Porter bagged plenty of laughs in a scene which, although interpreted literally did not detract from the play’s overall weight and served its original purpose of levity to the full. As witches, they were a cohesive and formidable team, fillingGareth Fordred’s Macbeth with awe, wrath and fear. Mr Fordred’s Macbeth grappled with the rollercoaster of emotions which plague him – presenting the audience with a genuine dilemma of a good man in whose soul the seeds of evil have taken root. His dynamic with Ms McPake’s manipulative and forceful Lady Macbeth spiralled into the self-destructive relationship which ultimately consumes their humanity and supplants it with greed, tyranny and guilt. David Chittenden’s Banquo was noble and poised, contrasting well with Mr Fordred’s increasingly volatile Macbeth, while Roger Clark’s MacDuff had a solemnity which befitted the character but led me to find his other, lesser roles, like the captain and several courtiers/soldiers more engaging because of his versatility.
Versatility was indeed key to this performance because the cast of six managed, while struggling against the unbearable heat of that still evening, to create a slick and tightly presented spectacle – of an uncut Shakespeare play. The excellent clarity of diction was a real gem – the audience could hear and understand every word – and the interpretation chosen was so wisely directed and carefully crafted that one could see exactly why Shakespeare had chosen to use the words that he did. It was a performance that exalted the language and gave it its proper place in the order of theatrical merit on a stage stripped bare of fussy Elizabethan costume and complicated scenery, with simple rotating columns designed by Arno Scholz, which could be adapted to every scene and Juliane Kasprzik’s cleverly designed costumes which facilitated the rapid changes which maintaining the essence of the period.
It is a credit to Mr Stebbings’ direction and the entire cast’s professionalism that TNT’s Macbeth may well have been the best classic, canonical drama to be presented to Maltese audiences.
TIMES (Of Malta)
“When shall we three meet again, in thunder lightening or in rain?”
Interpreting Macbeth for the stage
After the recent closure of the first West End production of Macbeth for several years, a leading critic noted that the play was notoriously difficult to stage and that there had perhaps been only two successful productions in London since the 1945. Given that Macbeth is one of the most popular plays ever written, the statement may seem strange, but the play does present problems that most directors find difficult to resolve.
The first problem is that of the supernatural in general and the witches in particular. Given the psychological realism and brutal “realpolitik” of the play it is hard for an audience (and actors) who have no belief in witchcraft to accept the role of the supernatural. As a result these elements are relegated to a minor role or glossed over with embarrassment. For example, the recent RSC production has the first witches’ scene played in complete darkness. Another production cut the witches altogether, and indeed the play operates since there is no problem of motivation and Malcolm’s 10,000 men can overpower Macbeth without the aid of Dunsinane Wood or MacDuff’s accident of birth. However, it would seem to us the supernatural elements are vital to the play. The essential misreading seems to be that since Shakespeare’s age believed in witches and we do not, witchcraft must be unconvincing on the modern stage. This does a disservice to the past. There was a great debate as to whether witchcraft existed during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Thinkers such as Francis Bacon and Montaigne were sceptical, and Montaigne was probably the greatest philosophical influence on the author of Macbeth. Even King James himself, who wrote a book warning against witchcraft, could shift from the gullible to the sceptical point of view depending on his political interests. Protestant theologians often equated witchcraft with superstitious Catholicism. So Shakespeare places a question mark over the supernatural, and in its ambiguity lies its power and contemporary relevance. How far are we responsible for our own actions? Are we driven or do we drive? The supernatural, it seems to us, must be ever present in a production of Macbeth. It is a temptation, an excuse and a symbol for all that is beyond our control. It is also “super nature”, a powerful force that enforces the laws of nature.
Productions of Macbeth often fail through their attempt to solve the complexities of the play at one stroke by selecting an historical or geographical setting. But the play resists this simplification. Probably the worst professional production I ever saw was a major British theatre’s Wild West setting of the play. A purely modern setting undermines the play, since without the concept of Kingship as the future of society the play dissolves. If Macbeth is a gangster or a warlord what should he care that Banquo’s heirs will inherit and if Duncan is just another vicious boss why should his murder be a special crime?
Finally, the play itself is not perfect. It moves at a sensational pace and then grinds to a halt in Act Four.Its possible that Shakespeare was straining to include themes and characters that would flatter King James ( who was supposed to be descended for Banquo). In terms of poetry and symbol these scenes lack nothing, but in the theatre the energy suddenly subsides and does not pick up again until Lady Macbeth sleepwalks to insanity. This raises the question as to how close the published texts are to the plays actually performed at the Globe. We will never know the answer, but in both Henry the Fifth and Romeo and Juliet there are prologue speeches that refer to ““his the two hour traffic of our stage””. Yet neither play can be performed in two hours without savage cuts. There exists a prompt copy for a performance of Macbeth in the 1620’s.(It is called the Padua Promptbook after its present home). Many scenes are cut, even the Porter. Its also clear that scenes were added, notably the later witch scene was extended by Thomas Middleton, probably with the agreement of Shakespeare. All we can say from this is that the written text was not sacred or even fixed in the playwright’s own time. We have chosen to strip away the minor characters and cut back those scenes where the dramatic pace drops. We have also followed Shakespearian practice by doubling performers in their roles and ignoring the gender of certain performers. Our overriding aim has been to illuminate the text, to interpret for a modern audience without simplifying and generate theatrical excitement. Like Macbeth we have worried: “If we should fail?” But we have “screwed our courage to the sticking place” and taken the production to (almost) the four corners of the globe. We hope that the actors and playwright of the original Globe theatre (or their ghosts) might respect our attempt to aim for the heart of this extraordinary and ever relevant play.
“And nothing is but what is not…”
A synopsis of the TNT production of MACBETH :
Macbeth and Banquo are two Thanes (Leading nobles) of the aged King of Scotland, Duncan. They are also his generals. They defeat a Norwegian invasion of Scotland and on their return from t he battlefield meet three witches who predict that Macbeth will become King and that Banquo will found a dynasty of Kings. They also predict that Macbeth will be made Thane of Cawdor, which happens almost as soon as they vanish. Macbeth starts to believe their prophesy and tells it in a letter to his wife. Lady Macbeth is actually more ambitious and tough than her husband and when she receives the letter starts o hatch a plot to murder the old King when he stays with them soon after the victory. Banquo is troubled by these events but keeps silent. Macbeth wonders if he should do the terrible deed of killing his guest and King. Prompted by his wife he does kill the King, almost has a breakdown and is saved from discovery by his cooler wife.
As the witches foretold Macbeth is declared King in preference to Duncan’s son, Malcolm, who fearing for his life flees to England. It is assumed the young Malcolm is guilty of his father’s death. Both Banquo and another noble, MacDuff are worried at the turn of events. Macbeth once in power becomes convinced that Banquo will betray him and is also worried by the witches’prophecy that Banquo’s family line will one day become King. Macbeth is hardening and without his wife’s knowledge arranges the murder of his “friend” Banquo and Banquo’s son (Fleance) but although Banquo is killed Fleance escapes.
Macbeth holds a banquet to celebrate his coronation, but Banquo’s ghost appears and disrupts the banquet. Only Macbeth can see the ghost, the nobles are worried that their new king is mad. Lady Macbeth, now Queen, tries to hold the banquet together and cover up for her husband but the effort almost destroys her and we never see her energetic or rational again.
Macbeth decides to return to the witches for advice, he receives three riddling predictions that seem to prove he can never be defeated, including the statement that “no man of woman born can ever harm him” and that he will fall only when a forest marches on his castle. When Macbeth presses them they repeat the prediction that Banquo’s descendants will rule Scotland for hundreds of years. This drives Macbeth to new fury and he decides to be bloody and murderous. He is angered that MacDuff has gone to England to meet with Prince Malcolm and so has his whole family murdered including the children. The scene shifts too England where MacDuff is trying to persuade a cautious Malcolm to return to Scotland and lead a revolt against Macbeth. News comes that all MacDuff’s family are murdered and Malcolm, moved, is persuaded to lead an English army into Scotland with MacDuff.
Back in Scotland, Lady Macbeth goes mad, driven to distraction by her guilt. She eventually commits suicide and Macbeth sinks into dark despair. The English army arrive and Macbeth trusts to the witches’ prophecies. But these are soon revealed as omens of his destruction as the English army camouflages itself with branches so the forest appears to march on Macbeth’s castle. Finally, as Macbeth’s disloyal army melts away, MacDuff corners the tyrant King. Macbeth still trusts the witches but MacDuff reveals he was born by Caesarian operation and so not truly born from the womb. Macbeth sees he is doomed but chooses to fight to the end. MacDuff kills him and cuts off his head. Malcolm is restored as King of Scotland. The witches are still in the background – the play’s themes are repeated and reinforced – all seems well but humanity will soon corrupt and destroy itself again in its endless pursuit of power.
SHAKESPEARE’s PLAYS AND TNT theatre
(To edit or not to edit?)
The company has been performing Shakespeare’s works almost continuously since the summer of 2000. Over one thousand performances have taken place in over twenty countries on four continents. The sequence was: MACBETH, A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM, HAMLET, ROMEO AND JULIET, KING LEAR, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, OTHELLO, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, THE MERCHANT OF VENICE , THE TEMPEST, TWELFTH NIGHT and recently: JULIUS CAESAR. Most of these have been revived and developed, MACBETH, for example, being almost continuously in the company’s repertoire.
Shakespeare’s texts remain the densest and richest theatrical text’s we have been privileged to work upon. While the quality of the poetry and depth of theme and character are well known it is always a lesson in humility to discover the excellence of Shakespeare’s theatrical craft. We often sense that Shakespeare is “on our side” in rehearsals. This is especially so when a company works as we do with resources similar to Shakespeare’s own. We have a small troupe of multi-skilled actors who double roles and even swap genders as needed, we use live music and minimal set . We have to be able to perform without theatre lighting. We have to appeal to a wide audience and our greatest weapon is the imagination of that audience. The resources of a large modern theatre often impede these plays. For example Shakespeare never had slow or complex set changes between scenes, the plays should be fast and furious (how else can they fit “within the two hours traffic of our stage” to quote ROMEO AND JULIET).
We will never know if the texts printed in the famous Folio edition of Shakespeare’s complete works some seven years after his death are definitive. It was thought so for many years but now the weight of scholarship suggests that the Folio may represent a literary version “written up” by Shakespeare for publication and private reading. Poetry had high status in Elizabethan and Jacobean England, theatre was low status. Indeed the theatres were to be closed within a generation of Shakespeare’s death. Even in Shakespeare’s lifetime poetry began to threaten popular theatre. Soon after KING LEAR was written Shakespeare’s troupe moved to the Royal Court and the later, more poetic, plays lack the muscular theatricality of his earlier works. (With the honourable exception of the TEMPEST).
What is interesting is that there are alternative texts to the Folio, the so called Quartos, (names that come from the smaller sheets of paper they were printed upon). Some of these alternative texts may be corrupt, pirated copies but increasingly they are being recognised as theatrical versions of the texts. They are shorter and often more dynamic. For example, in the First Quarto of HAMLET (which TNT used as the basis for our production), there are scenes that do not exist in the longer Folio. Hamlet’s mother is reintroduced at a crucial moment. The position of “To be or not to be” is different and better. These feel like amendments Shakespeare made to the script after it was first performed. Many scholars believe that the MACBETH we know is a short version of a longer play. There are no “Quarto” versions of MACBETH and it is so much more focused than the other tragedies.
In our recent for example, TWELFTH NIGHT we cut back or out some minor characters, such as the confusing Fabian, and tried to focus on Malvolio as a malevolent figure – not the bumbling fool of many productions. We changed some words so the audience may understand what Shakespeare intended: such as changing the “Great Sophie” to the “Shah of Persia”. In JULIUS CAESAR we edited and simplified the battle scenes in Act Five, as Shakespeare seems to follow Plutarch’s complex historical account at the expense of dramatic coherence. Our aim is to clarify the narrative, and above all to elucidate the original. We hope we bring the audience closer to Shakespeare’s central intention by our editing, and to allow the audience to understand Shakespeare’s purpose.
Ultimately, we have presumed to make our own version much as an acting company in Shakespeare’s own time might have adapted and cut the original. (This clearly happened when the Globe took productions on tour, as is proven by the three different versions of HAMLET that exist from Shakespeare’s time). We have tried to approach the text in the spirit of the editing so obvious in surviving quarto texts. We hope that Shakespeare’s ghost will understand if not forgive.
Brutus and Portia. TNT at Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica 2018 JULIUS CAESAR.
The company was founded in 1980 in Nottingham. Our first production was a manifesto piece: a commedia dell’arte life of the Russian director Meyerhold, who was murdered by Stalin. His ideas are still present in TNT’s work. The company received UK Arts Council (government ) funding for extensive tours of Britain for many years before shifting its focus to international touring. TNT’s initial productions were all self written and combined popular theatre forms with serious subjects. In 1983 we began integrating music into the productions on a complex level. In 1993 we began our collaboration ADG Europe and producer Grantly Marshall, expanding our repertoire to include classical texts and radical stage interpretations of novels. TNT toured internationally from its first year and now tours to over thirty countries a year on three continents in four languages. We believe that theatre itself is a language, and can be understood by all – especially in this digital age – where live art is so essential.
TNT repertoire 2018:
ROMEO & JULIET, JULIUS CAESAR and MACBETH by Shakespeare, A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Dickens a new French language version of NOTRE DAME DE PARIS adapted by Paul Stebbings (director Gaspard Legendre). The autumn season opens with an exciting new approach to Shaw’s masterpiece: PYGMALION, followed by a revival of TNT’s FRANKENSTEIN, and a new production: CROOKED LETTER CROOKED LETTER based on the novel by Tom Franklin set in Mississippi. Meanwhile TNT’s MURDER OF SHERLOCK HOLMES and TAMING OF THE SHREW will also be revived in Mandarin by the Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre, while in Costa Rica Teatro Espressivo revives CUENTA DE NAVIDAD (Dickens adapted by Paul Stebbings) and work starts on a new project on the history of Costa Rica. All original texts are by Paul Stebbings and Phil Smith. TNT are represented in China by Milky Way productions Beijing and several other producers across three continents.
Our motto is taken from Meyerhold, who inspired our first production: “Tragedy with a smile on its lips”
TNT is produced by Grantly Marshall of the American Drama Group Europe (Munich) and in association with Teatro Espressivo de Costa Rica.
ADGE was founded in 1978, producer Grantly Marshall presents more performances in more countries than any other touring theatre producer worldwide. The central office is in Munich Germany.
The company offers a wide range of workshops and post show discussions with cast.
This production of MACBETH was the first foreign performance invited to the new Nanjing theatre in China ( 2018).