| Back to Red Bank and Final Dress Rehearsal - 1/13/08
I’m on a plane, flying over the Grand Canyon, frosted with snow. I’m on my way back to Red Bank,
New Jersey, for final rehearsals and previews of “Macbeth.” It’s 9 in the morning and I’ve been
up since 5:30 (after four hours of deep sleep). * * *
Over the last two weeks I’ve been participating in “Macbeth” only by phone and email.
I’ve been getting reports every day from Aaron Posner (director), Kate Olden (stage manager),
and Matt Holzclaw (magic consultant). We’ve had a number of mechanical and technical surprises,
involving motors that can’t deal with the torque they need to deal with and big pieces of glass that
won’t stay stuck to their backing and fall to the ground and shatter.
This being the live theater, most of the rehearsal has had to take place in a rehearsal hall,
instead of on the set, which is tricky for testing out angles and mechanics. Typically, I’ll get
one anxiety-riddled message from Matt in the morning, asking advice, and another full of rejoicing
at the end of the day. Two days ago I was in the midst of some work at my shop when I received
a phone call from Aaron, saying, “We just ran the Lady Macbeth nightmare, and there are a few
angle problems but pretty much everybody who watched it screamed.”
Before I left for the Vegas airport this morning I got a message from Matt. He’d seen some decline
in the precision of the choreography in the Banquo Ghost sequence. It’s easy, he said, to solve
this now, but what will happen during a five week run. He added: “Looking forward to seeing you
tomorrow. Bring your mirror thinking cap.”
I made sure to pack it.
On the plane I watched Matt Holtzclaw’s play “Cane’s Bayou.” It’s a nearly two-hour, one-act
character-centered story of a young man and his mentally handicapped brother in a small town
on the Bayou finding their way out of the past and into the present. The DVD Matt gave me came
from the NY Fringe Festival and the work is astounding, absolutely beautiful. The writing and acting
is rich and deep, quietly and gently sexy, with bursts of unstrained humor throughout. It clearly
comes from the heart and has a nakedness and a kindness that warmed me and put me even more in awe
of Matt (and his wonderful collaborators.)
* * *
Andrew Martini met me, helped me get set in the hotel, and we had dinner. Then we went into
the house to see a dress rehearsal of the show.
There is stuff to be finished in the magic area. Everything is there, but needs the final
polish that makes it seem real. But the heart of the show is beating with a strong
and compelling pulse. Even at the end of a week of grueling rehearsals, in which everybody
was exhausted, the actors were great. They range from solid to astounding. We have a fresh
and vibrant take on Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth, with no danger at all of the typical “Macbeth is
a big, mopey wuss.” Macduff, Banquo, Malcolm & Donalbain, Ross, Lennox, Macduff’s wife and kid,
the Porter, the Weird Sisters, Duncan, the Murderers, and all the rest are solid and excellent
actors with fresh and clear points of view. The story is easy to follow and moves very swiftly
and surprisingly, thanks to the ingenious interweavings that Aaron has devised. The set is severe
and scary; the lights stark; the percussion driving.
I won’t say more now. Gotta go ride the exercycle, then spend the afternoon scaring up some apparitions.