CamPrep Drama Production 2015: Macbeth

On Tuesday night, our Drama students staged two, back-to-back productions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. With an inventive and dynamic script adapted by our uber-talented Drama teacher, Sarah Holden-Boyd, the actors impressed all with their performance of one of Shakespeare’s darkest and most absorbing tragedies. We invite you to enjoy a compilation of clips from Tuesday’s performance:

Final Exhibitions

So, the program here at Peterhouse is drawing to a close. That means it’s time to showcase all the work that the students have been doing over the past month. This evening’s exhibitions have done just that, and all the work looks amazing! From photography to business presentations, architecture models to extracting strawberry DNA, every class has produced a final project for everyone to see.

Global Business presented their group business ideas and everyone in the program was given one ‘dollar’ to invest in the one they thought was best. Investment opportunities ranged from a travel app to a soda-freeze mechanism to a microchip to stick to your shirt in order to monitor sports progress. Presentations were slick and polished, with all the students looking very professional. They’ll make formidable business people one day!

The Architecture class had laid out all their models and concept boards for a new market-place in Cambridge town centre. The designs were innovative, elegant and well-thought-out. The students also gave brief presentations to passers-by, and they gave convincing and eloquent explanations of their ideas.

Medical Science students gave presentations on how different plants can be used in science. The plants included common plants, such as foxglove, to those we are more wary of, such as Deadly Nightshade. Students were engaged with the issues at hand, and gave animated and interesting presentations.

The students in the Photojournalism minor class each produced a portfolio of their photos taken throughout the program. Photos covered a wide variety of subjects from the surroundings of Cambridge to the general public and were taken in a variety of styles. All the portfolios looked very professional – all the students should be very proud of what they’ve produced!

Zoology gave a presentation in the theatre demonstrating how to extract DNA from a strawberry. This impressive display was engaging and well received by the crowds. They then returned to their stand where they gave passionate and interesting presentations about the work they have been doing recently.

Molecular Biology, Math and Nature, and Science and the Future had produced posters for the exhibition, which they presented to interested attendees.

The Entrepreneurialism class pitched their ideas for small business start-ups and tried to win investments from interested students and staff.

Meanwhile, Criminology students conducted a mock trial, while the Terrorism and Global Politics class thrilled audiences with their staging of a hostage situation!

Tonight, film students had the opportunity to show their completed shorts for the first time. With intriguing titles, such as The Letter and A Walk in the Park, the appreciative audiences were treated to Q & A sessions with the films’ talented directors/writers/editors.

Meanwhile, the Drama class impressed with their energetic and committed performances in Cam Prep’s production of Macbeth. This passionate and powerful tragedy provided ample opportunity for students to develop their acting skills and all rose to the challenge admirably. Stay tuned for clips from this exciting performance.

Macbeth Quartet: Tea Time!

After a few hours of research in the library, the Macbeth Quartet took a break to join a tea party. Local resident, Dr Beverley Craw-Eismont, is a close friend of theMacbeth teacher, and she was adamant the students were able to enjoy a British summer in a British garden. Dr Craw-Eismont also invited two local friends, Isobell and Vera, giving the students the opportunity to chat with a few of the locals who remembered St Andrews ‘back when’.
Set in Dr Craw-Eismont’s garden in the town centre the group enjoyed the summer sun while nibbling on local cakes, biscuits, chocolate, strawberries, and scones. Due to the unusually hot weather, ice tea was served along with hot coffee. Spending a few hours in the sunshine chatting in an aromatic and colourful garden was the perfect way to while away a couple of hours.

Macbeth Quartet – Trip To the Theatre

The Macbeth Quartet hopped on a bus for a short ride to Dundee, where they were given a backstage tour of the Dundee Rep Theatre — home to Dundee Rep Ensemble, Scottish Dance Theatre and Rep Creative Learning. Dundee Rep Theatre is the most awarded theatre in Scotland, and the Dundee Rep Ensemble was established in 1999 with the mission of bringing together a permanent full-time company of actors, the only company of its kind in Scotland.
The Rep Theatre’s Education, Skills & Training Facilitator, Heather Cassidy, provided the students with a unique opportunity to experience theatre behind the scenes. The Quartet was able to tread the boards and get a feel for what it’s like to be centre stage. They were also given a tour of backstage, the dressing rooms, the workshop, the paint shop, the wardrobe, costume design and the dance studio. Plus, they had the unique chance to talk to members of staff who are responsible for building the stage and making the costumes. At one point, the Quartet found themselves amongst the racks upon racks of costumes singing a few lines from Macbeth in order to test the unusual acoustics of the room.
The field trip was a very interesting opportunity, it helped bring alive the theatre, and also provide them with a few ideas on how to produce the Scottish Play.

Tales from the Macbeth Quartet

400 Year Old Manuscripts – 25 June
On Thursday, 25 June we took a trip to the University of St Andrews’ special collections and archives unit. Archivist Maia Sheridan not only displayed a series of medieval and early modern manuscripts that would have any Shakespearean scholar quivering with excitement, but she gathered materials that focused specifically on the story and history of Macbeth. The students used this as an opportunity to learn about archives, the tenuous nature of historic research, and to actually hold and read from 400 year old manuscripts.
Over the course of the programme, the Macbeth Quartet had discovered that recounting history from a pre-printing press time period was difficult, and not all of the stories regarding the historic 11C King Macbeth added up. The trip to the University archives highlighted this conundrum, with one historic recounting of Macbeth discussing Banquo, while another leaving him out of the saga. A series of manuscripts dating from the 13C to the early 20C were displayed on the reading room table. Several of these texts recounted Scottish history, and the students used this opportunity to read the manuscripts to uncover the story of the historic Macbeth. From learning to read Gothic handwriting to translating Latin, the students pieced together the narrative of this historic Scottish King.
Shakespearean Acting Masterclass – 26 June
On Friday evening, Anne-Marie Bottoms, professional actor and co-owner of the film company, August Pictures, popped around to give a short masterclass on performing Shakespeare. Both Macbeth and Creative Writing students were asked to come along, but students were given the opportunity to be ‘actors’ or ‘audience members’. Happily, quite a few brave souls took up the acting challenge.
Anne-Marie took them through body and vocal warm-up exercises (including a strange sequence of saying ‘prune banana’), then worked with them on understanding Shakespearean language. She encouraged them not to be afraid of the archaic grammar and vocabulary, but to embrace its beauty like poetry and look for the emotional substance in each line. They did a few projection exercises, then she through them into the deep end. They were to perform a reading of Lady Macbeth’s famous speech. In a row, each student was given a few lines, and Anne-Marie coached each of the student actors on how to perform. They got a real feel for being directed through a Shakespearean performance. At the end, they put their lines together and jointly became Lady Macbeth.  –Rachel Marsh, Macbeth Teacher

Update from the Macbeth Quartet

Saturday, 20 June
Last Saturday, the students ventured into the wilds of Angus to tour the famous Gamis Castle. The Macbeth Quartet, by this point, had become quite knowledgeable about Macbeth the historic king versus the Shakespearean character, so they knew that – despite it
featuring heavily in the Scottish play – Glamis Castle was not in existence during Macbeth’s life. So, they treated this field trip as a change to discover the inspirational aspects of the Castle, and focused on the story and the ambiance of a palace that intrigued Shakespeare enough to include it in his drama. They learned of the previous Earl’s form fitting pink body suit, the Queen Mother’s private quarters, and the sad story of Lady Janet Douglas, who may have been Shakespeare’s inspiration for the character Lady MacDuff. They saw one of the world’s most rare and valuable paintings, and it’s of Jesus wearing a hat. They visited the cold stone guards’ chamber and recognised it as the setting of Duncan’s murder in the Shakespearean play. They even got a fleeting glimpse of
the Dowager Countess of Strathmore on her golf cart whizzing across the lawn. This trip helped set the scene for a month of close investigation into the Scottish play.
Monday, 22 June
After a fascinating presentation by Katrina on the themes of ‘Power and Ambition’ in ‘Macbeth’, the students were asked to consider how the Scottish play would be told if the gender roles were switched and it was set in a contemporary time period.
The Quartet worked together to outline a rewrite in which the genders of each character were reversed. After completing the outline, they then talked about how they could incorporate this version into a film script. It would be no exaggeration to state that their adaptation would make an amazing movie: creative ingenuity, strong character development, and action packed. A version to make the Bard proud.
Tuesday, 23 June
The Quartet have been talking about the importance of King James and the Union of the Crowns to both Shakespeare’s career and the Scottish play. On Tuesday, they chatted about James’ mother, Mary Queen of Scots, and her cousin Queen Elizabeth. They talked about Mary and Elizabeth’s relationship and the tumultuous lives led by these women in power. Of course, correlations to Lady Macbeth were made.
The Quartet also talked about King James’ reign as King of Scotland and then of England, and they found it important that George Buchanan – James’ childhood tutor and education – was a St Andrews graduate and then Professor.
With all this knowledge, they were sent into the town on a scavenger hunt with ten clues in hand. Each clue led them to an historic location that had a connection (in some way) to Queen Mary or King James. Once they ciphered each clue, they took a picture of the spot, and this cheeky Quartet couldn’t help but include a few selfies along the way.
**An interesting side note is that this four person crew thought they could find a short cut to the scavenger hunt. They popped into the Information Centre and handed the ten clues to a tourism adviser. The Quartet soon discovered that they knew more about the history of St Andrews than the man in the Information Centre, and they could figure out each clue on their own. They didn’t need to cheat.
Wednesday, 24 June
Lindsey presented to the class a fascinating discussion on Lady Macbeth as a woman who might have been suffering from postnatal depression. She discussed the lack of power women had during the Early Modern period, and she made connections between historic figures and the fictional characters. Lindsey’s talk sparked a full hour of discussion with everyone getting involved.
–Rachel Marsh, Macbeth Teacher

Today at a Glance: Security & Terrorism and Macbeth

In the Terrorism and Security minor on Monday, two guest speakers shared their knowledge and experience. Andrew Ferguson, a former St Andrews M.Litt student in Terrorism Studies, primarily focused upon the role of social media within terrorist organisations. He now works on infrastructure protection projects and is based in Washington. Upile Mtitimila, a graduating St Andrews IR student who based his dissertation on the relationship between the media and terrorism spoke about racism and Islamophobia. The students then presented about language in the media describing terrorist attacks.


And in the Macbeth major, Oxbridge student Katrina Claflin presented on the theme of power in the play.

Picts, first century Scotland, a medieval chapel, and lots of chocolate!

In preparation for a talk about Scotland during the life of King Macbeth (1005-1057 AD), the class took a short hike to the top of Hallow Hill to look at unearthed Pictish graves (5-9C). This set the scene for investigating a Scotland at the turn of the first century. A few bold souls got a feel for what it would be like to lay amongst the dead, while the others were happy to remain standing.
The Macbeth Quartet stayed on the hill to discuss the historic King Macbeth in relation to the Shakespearean character, but — with a cold North wind blowing over the meadow — the chill was too much, so we headed into town for a warming hot chocolate.
The conversation continued in the comfort of a town centre café. The historic Gruoch, the rivalry between Macbeth and Malcolm, and Thorfinn the Earl of Orkney’s desire to be King helped spark debate. After hot chocolates, we stopped off at Fisher and Donaldson for fudge doughnuts before having a peek inside of St Salvator’s Chapel (1450 AD). Picts, first century Scotland, a medieval chapel, and lots of chocolate makes for a good day.
— Rachel Marsh, Macbeth Teacher

The Macbeth Quartet

When our small gaggle of four Macbeth students met, they knew they needed a moniker. This motley crew of young women agreed on the ‘Macbeth Quartet’, and their natural disposition for both debate and teamwork has proved this quartet of young women will keep me on my toes.
The first full class of Macbeth: Scottish King, Shakespearean Character had them understanding the nuances of Early Modern English. They looked at the grammar differences between contemporary English and the language spoken during Shakespeare’s time, and they argued about ‘Why is Shakespeare’s work still loved? Is it for the language or the story?’
The quartet was asked to work together to write a short story, and then translate their contemporary piece into Early Middle English. (Pictured) The story is still in the editing stages, but I believe they have written about a giant ice cream that comes to life to destroy a group of students in St Andrews.
The Macbeth students also learned about the Scots language, how to pronounce Scottish place names (Milngavie, Garioch and Culzean), and they learned Scottish words (ken, fey, fusty, and numpty). This lesson was in preparation for a visit from Edinburgh Theatre Arts (ETA), an amateur drama troop which has been in existence since the late 1940s.

In 2012, ETA performed Robin Lorimer’s version of Macbeth — which was translated into Scots – at the Fringe and for the RSC in Stratford. The director (Mike Duffy), two actors (Danny Farrimond and Edith Peers), and Lorna Dixon who helped to adapt Lorimer’s version further joined the Macbeth Quartet and the Creative Writing class to talk about Scots, performing in Scots, and their experiences of producing Shakespearean dramas .
However, the main event was a performance of Macbeth by ETA. The troop’s two actors performed scenes as Lady Macbeth and Macbeth in the original Early Modern English, then performed the same scenes in Scots. (pictured) The students learned about the power of Shakespeare, and — despite not understanding the Scots – were able to see how the story could come alive through performance.

–Rachel Marsh, Macbeth Teacher