As many of you know I have been an actress since I was a child. Before becoming known for my work with children I worked on many stages across the country, and here in Chicago. One stage, however, that I never got a chance to work on when I was a “practicing actress” is The Chicago Shakespeare Stage at Navy Pier. Nonetheless, I have had the great fortune to enjoy the stage from the house as an audience member. Not alone, but with the best theatre dates I can think of… my children.
The Chicago Shakespeare Theatre has this wonderful program for families called Short Skakespeare. Let’s face it, any production of a Shakespeare play has to be edited, but Chicago Shakes pairs down the bard’s plays with young people in mind; introducing them to the wonders of Shakespeare’s genius in a time frame that is appropriate for their age and attention span. Currently they are running an abridged production of Macbeth, (or for those of you in the know, “The Scotish Play”). I took my 5th grader and my 7th grader, because MacB is not a show for 2nd graders. Well, when all is said and done, it’s not really a show for a 5th and 7th grader either, but they were good theatre troopers for their mother. (I would recommend the show for high school students more than elementary school kids.)
I applaud director David H. Bell for the simplicity of the production staging. Using a grand red cloth he symbolically tied the show together, literally. The weightless, bright red cloth made it easier for the audience to track the story line of the complicated play, especially when the text became too heavy for young ears. Also, the use of stomp like percussion kept the story in rhythm. There was a live percussionist on stage responding to the action of the play in real time. The actors contributed to the sound banging and clanging props and set pieces. It was never more riveting than during the fight scenes, of which there were many. By the end of the show, after all of the witches, prophecy’s, fights, blood shed and changes of power, it felt as though we had run a marathon in and out of the dark.
Even though coming out of the theatre my kids weren’t completely sure of all that they had just watched, they were clear that they had witnessed great theatre, which has made them want to come back and see some more. Fete accompli!
Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is performed Saturdays at 11 a.m. from January 22 through March 5, 2011, in CST’s Courtyard Theater. Tickets are $16–$20 with special discounts available for groups of 10 or more. All patrons receive a 40% parking discount at Navy Pier garages. Short Shakespeare! Macbeth is recommended for ages 10 and up. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s Box Office at 312.595.5600 or visit the Theater’s website at www.chicagoshakes.com.
Side notes of no real consequence:
in 1993 Director David H. Bell offered me my first equity job with a part in Hot Mikado at the Marriott Theatre. However, I declined the contract and instead took on a non-union lead in Hotel D’Amore at DuPage Theatre. That show was directed by Gary Griffin, director of the Tony Award winning The Color Purple, and also Associate Artistic Director at …Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Voila!
* Level 1: Some or all of the products or services mentioned were provided to Miss Lori free of charge.
Miss Lori can be found Musing from her Minivan at MissLori.TV , Wearetherealdeal.com , YoungChicagonista , ChicagoMomsBlog , and ChicagoMoms.com. You can also see her Activating to Be Great at Miss Lori’s CAMPUS on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.