Bard's Macbeth, A Damn Good FightSaturday, June 16, 2012
Alas I do not have any pictures of anybody in the cast that I could use for an appropriate blog on the performance which was as good as Shakespeare can be when the production is a Bard on the Beach production. I have pictures of Bernard Cuffling, as an angel from the Arts Club’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life. But Duncan (played most efficiently by Cuffling is not a part I could write about at length. Neither could I write much about Shawn Macdonald (I photographed him some years ago) who plays Menteith. I do not the skill beyond that of a steady blogger to write at length about a nobleman of Scotland.
Now most everybody knows that one of the premier (and living) British actors who has excelled either as an actor or as a director is Kenneth Branagh. He came some years ago to Vancouver to push his long version of his film (he directed it and also played Hamlet) Hamlet. I remember that I wanted to photograph him as Hamlet holding a dagger. Branagh’s publicist (even then publicists were existence to prevent access to those they represented) prohibited me from bringing a bodkin to use as a prop. “Mr. Branagh is here to promote his film not to pose as your hamlet.” I brought along Bard on the Beach’s Artistic Director Christopher Gaze so that he could meet one of his idols. I had access because I represented the Georgia Straight. And in those days many directors and principal actors came to Vancouver to promote their films. That situation has changed with the internet and I would go as far as saying that the 21st century is the century where “access is denied”.
The publicist told us that Branagh was a busy man and did not have any spare time to meet anybody. Gaze waited in the wings as I photographed Branagh. I pulled the bodkin from my camera bag and pointed in the direction of the outside room where the publicist and I gesticulated that the man had said no with my thumb down. Branagh smiled. He had caught on. He reached for the bodkin and I got my picture.
Branagh may be headed towards more commercially ignited films, but he did admit that he has his eye on another of Shakespeare’s plays. Due to the superstitions connected with uttering “Macbeth” in a theater and the event taking place in the Castro Theater, the director explained the best he could, “I would like to make some more Shakespeare films. The film that I would like to make next has a title that I cannot mention in this building. But it’s a play by Shakespeare about a Scottish king.” Hopefully the director’s caution will pay off.
Another picture is indeed that of a Macbeth but it is an operatic one. American baritone, Greer Grimsley came to Vancouver in 2009 to play Macbeth in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth.
The third man, at the top, also looking like a perfect Macbeth is not an actor. He is Nicholas Harrison whom I photographed in my living room.
Nicholas Harrison is a popular and most effective Fight Director and is indeed the Fight Director in all of Bard’s plays this year. Besides Macbeth he is credited for The Taming of the Shrew, King John and The Merry Wives of Windsor.
You might wonder what Harrison would choreograph (fight directors do just that) in a play like The Taming of the Shrew. In fact there are a lot of fisticuffs, of the domestic kind in that play!
What do these three pictures have in common besides the fact that they all look like Macbeths?
All three are holding weapons from Harrison’s collection. He is a Fight Director but an avid collector of weapons that cut. I would guess (I will have to ask him) if he has spears, bows and arrows, maces, clubs and early flintlocks.
Any who might be reading this might not know that in a theatrical run the director, by contract must be present at the opening of a play. And even curioser is that for safety precautions, all fights must be rehearsed before every performance of the run of the play. This would ensure that Mr. Harrison’s job is not only a good one but a steady one, too!