Thursday, February 23, 2017

Grade School Macbeth in Slings & Arrows

“Fallow Time.” By Susan Coyne and Bob Martin. Dir. Peter Wellington. Perf. Martha Burns, Paul Gross, Don McKellar, Mark McKinney, Oliver Dennis, Susan Coyne, Stephen Ouimette, Catherine Fitch, and Geraint Wyn Davies. Slings and Arrows. Season 2, episode 2. Movie Central: Canada. 4 July 2005. DVD. Acorn Media, 2006-2007.

I've recently had cause to go back to Slings and Arrows to have a look at the way they staged the Macbeth-within-the-Macbeth-related season of the series.

If you've never seen this show, stop now and go watch it in its entirety and then come back. A remarkable show in its own right, the fun it has with Shakespeare push it into entirely new categories.

If you've never seen the show but you're not obeying the command in the last paragraph, you'll need to know that the series is about a director who takes over as the artistic director of a Shakespeare festival when the previous director dies. That previous director's ghost (or is it just a hallucination?) returns from time to time to help (or to plague?) the new director. In the episode from which this clip is drawn, Jeffrey Tennant (the new director) goes to a local grade school to see its production of Macbeth (the grade school always puts on a version of whatever the festival is doing). As Jeffrey watches the show, he becomes more and more disturbed by the thought of having to direct the play himself—until Oliver, the previous director, shows up. Here's a compilation of all the scenes with the grade school Macbeth:

It's great stuff, particularly in the layering that gives us a director of Macbeth behaving like Macbeth when Macbeth sees the ghost of Banquo.

Links: The Show at IMDB.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest