Parkrose High Theater students give life to “Macbeth”

In addition to learning their lines – discover what else students learned, as they presented Shakespeare’s classic tale of love and treachery …

Parkrose High School student Juneau Singleton operates the lighting controls, and Llake Anderson – also a student, and the sound crew chief – joins her in getting ready for the presentation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth in the school’s theatre.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The fall season of drama at Parkrose High School this year opened on November 2, featuring William Shakespeare’s strange tale Macbeth, set in Scotland around 1040 AD, and first performed in 1603.

We asked drama instructor Ms. Zena – also the play’s director – how such an ancient play can still have meaning today.

The director of Macbeth, Parkrose High drama instructor Ms. Zena, offers “actors’ notes” after a dress rehearsal.

The play’s trio of “Weird Sisters” (played by Jade Bradford, Courtney Earls, and Harrison Lusby) tell Macbeth (Zeth Hillman-Johnson) that he’s sure to be crowned King – if he follows their advice.

“In addition to [the value of ] our students learning one of the great works of Shakespeare,” Zena responded, “it’s a great play because its basis is meaningful in everyday life. As we live, we all have the opportunity to make dumb choices or ‘flash’ decisions because they seem like a good idea at the time. Sometimes, when we don’t carefully think through our decisions, the consequences can be dire.”

The value of being truthful also is a theme in Macbeth, Zena added. “When one tells a lie, one often soon feels the necessity to follow it up with another, and then another, to protect the original lie – to the point beyond where it can never be retracted.”

The Weird Sisters tell Macbeth’s war buddy, Banquo (Justin Wright), that good fortune lies before them.

King Duncan (Cordell Elkins, far left) proclaims that Banquo and Macbeth should be honored as heroes – not knowing one of them is plotting murder.

A love story

Even though Macbeth’s and his Lady’s actions are heinous, resulting in murders as well as lies, the story is fundamentally about two people in love, Zena pointed out. “In fact, they’re so in love that this young couple desperately wants to be with one another. But Macbeth’s job as a soldier, doesn’t allow that; he’s been off to war.”

When a trio of “Weird Sisters” – witches who plant ideas, and watch what happens, rather than cast spells – tells Macbeth he’ll become King, he and his Lady find the notion very appealing. However, a seated King, and his appointed heir, are in their way.

Lady Macbeth (Bree Beveridge) daydreams of the time when she and her man will be able to spend more time together.

The frisky Lady is thrilled when Macbeth returns from war.

“This play also deals with treachery, and the idea that everyone can be suspected of treachery – it’s typical of our country right now,” Zena noted.

“We’re looking at each other, and blaming each other, and questioning who and what is true and what is false. At some point we’ve got to trust – but we must be careful of whom we trust.”

When King Duncan comes for a visit, Macbeth and his Lady quickly hatch a murderous plan.

It appears as if the brutal deed is done.

Presented for today’s audiences

This is a fast-moving version of Macbeth – but it does retain Shakespeare’s classic language. Instead of relying on carrier pigeons and couriers – characters in this version communicate with iPhones and the Internet.

And, this show does have plenty of dramatic moments and action scenes – and those “Weird Sisters”, watching their handiwork unfold.

When you see this play, you’ll agree that Parkrose High student actors Zeth Hillman-Johnson as Macbeth and Bree Beveridge as Lady Macbeth “did the work” of preparing for their demanding parts, as did actors in lesser roles.

Why is Macbeth’s buddy Banquo being murdered by this band of thugs?

Banquo-the-undead is certainly putting a damper of the Macbeth’s party.

Will Macduff (Adriene McInerny) avenge the murder of her family by the treacherous Macbeth?

Two final presentations on November 9 and 10
See Macbeth on stage; the curtain goes up at 7:00 p.m. each evening. All seats are just $5, tickets are available at the door.

The Parkrose High School Theatre is a 12003 NE Shaver Street, just west of NE 122nd Avenue.

See great theater: Macbeth, at the Parkrose High School Theatre

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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