APRIL 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

‘Macbeth’ Casts Shadow on the Holy Angels Stage

Demarest, NJ: “Macbeth” cast his formidable shadow on the stage of the Academy of the Holy Angels courtesy of Shakespeare LIVE! – the educational touring arm of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

“We have enjoyed professional productions of plays at our school in the past, and when I received a flyer from the NJ Shakespeare Festival's Shakespeare LIVE! program featuring the play ‘Macbeth,’ which everyone (at Holy Angels) reads in eleventh grade, I thought our school could benefit from seeing a live production,” English Department Chairperson Nancy Schneberger commented.

Schneberger conferred with AHA Performing Arts Director Dan Mahoney.

“After conversation between ourselves and the administration, we realized it would be possible to have a production here at AHA,” Mahoney said. “I suggested that I could make the arrangements.”

He added that this performance was an ideal enhancement to the curriculum, since students were able to see the play they are studying performed live by a professional company without having to leave the AHA campus.

Eight versatile actors presented this cautionary tale of raw ambition, with some taking on multiple roles. Reversing the Shakespearean norm of having men play female roles, this production featured a woman in the traditionally male role of Banquo. The other characters in the play acknowledged Banquo as a female.

After the production, the actors fielded multiple questions from the audience. One student asked what the actors thought Lady Macbeth was writing during her sleepwalking scene.

Isabel Pask, who portrays Lady Macbeth, observed that the queen writes something, reads it, and then tears up the paper.

“I think that you can play it a lot of different ways, but, for me, the most helpful thing to play is that she’s writing letters to her husband who has left for war,” Pask responded. “She’s afraid that he’s not going to come back. She’s afraid that she’s lost him forever, so she writes him these letters to come home and to have their life together back the way it was before everything went wrong.”

The actors also invited the students to get involved with the Shakespeare Theatre’s summer programs, which include opportunities for students who enjoy the theater, but prefer to work behind the scenes.

Based at Drew University in Madison, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is the longest-running Shakespeare theater company on the East Coast. The organization is also the state’s largest professional theater company dedicated to performing the plays of William Shakespeare and other classic masterworks. Shakespeare LIVE! takes the Bard of Avon’s works on the road to various locations, including AHA.

Shakespeare LIVE! was founded in February of 1997 and is currently involved in over 100 tours each year. The company’s goal is to make Shakespeare’s works accessible. In Shakespeare’s own time, theater was a major diversion for Londoners. Plays were entertainment for all classes of people, and The Globe Theatre, which was the resident playhouse for Shakespeare’s company, was an active social center.

“Macbeth” is one of approximately 38 plays written by Shakespeare. The famed poet’s legacy also includes two epic poems and more than 150 sonnets. The latter were written during outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague, when the theaters were closed to the public.

Shakespeare is noted for having used over 20,000 different words in his many works (twice the number of different words attributed to Milton), including nearly 2,000 words that had never before been seen in print, including assassination and weird, both of which were introduced in “Macbeth.” While “wyrd” (pronounced “weird”) would have been the poet’s word for “fate,” he uses “weird” to describe the sister witches. The poet’s spelling and usage of this term reportedly gave rise to the use of the modern word.

Born April 23, 1564 to John and Mary Arden Shakespeare, William Shakespeare remains a household name some 400 years after his passing in 1616.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.



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