Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

The Rude Mechanicals to perform Macbeth


It’s the end of the play, Macduff and Macbeth circle each other on stage, swords in hand ready to duel. Their swords clash, clash again and then they break apart. They raise their blades and collide again until Macbeth’s sword hits Macduff’s below the hilt and on the handle. But that’s not the choreography. 

“Sorry,” Mark Cobb, the actor playing Macbeth and the co-director of The Rude Mechanical’s said to his fellow actor. They take notes from their fight choreographer and they try it again. 

The Rude Mechanicals, a local group of actors, will present four performances of “Macbeth” this week, Wednesday through Saturday night with pre-show music starting at 7:30 p.m. and the show starting at 8. When the weather’s nice, the performances will be at The Park at Manderson Landing. If the weather is bad or the ground is wet, they move to the Allen Bales Theatre on campus. 

“Macbeth” follows a Scottish general who’s told by witches he’s destined to become King of Scotland. The ambitious Macbeth then murders the current king and takes the crown for himself, but is haunted by paranoia and guilt and is forced to commit more murders to cover up his own act of violence.

It’s the Shakespeare play that’s supposedly so cursed you’re not supposed to say it’s name in a theater. But Cobb, who’s directing the play along with starring in it, doesn’t buy into the superstition. 

“The show has a historical reputation for hundred years that it’s cursed because of the witches and the chants and stuff but I don’t believe that crap,” he said. “It’s superstition. But I do believe that because there’s so much action in it people do get hurt during the show during the rehearsal process.” 

Cobb said “Macbeth” was chosen because it’s The Rude Mechanicals 15th season and he wanted a big show and a challenge for himself. The last time the group performed Macbeth was in 2009. It was Cobb’s first major dramatic role and the group’s first time performing one of Shakespeare’s tragedies. 

“The main problem is not in directing myself it’s not being able to watch everybody while I’m doing my thing,” he said. “I find myself in the middle of the scene watching them instead of being where I’m supposed to be. I’m watching them going ‘you need to step further into the light – oh wait that’s not my line’ it’s just tricky like that.” 

Starring opposite Cobb is Stephanie Shamblin as Lady Macbeth, a character she described as “wackadoodle.” Lady Macbeth encourages her husband’s ruthless quest to become King. 

“She just wants her husband to do well so she makes him murder someone,” she said.  “Sometimes people need to know if you’re ambitious sometimes you’ve got to kill other people but blood will have blood and the process continues.” 

One of Shamblin’s favorite parts of this production, she said, was acting alongside the younger performers who are still in school like Libby Williams, a junior majoring in theatre and art who plays Lady Macduff in the production .

Williams played the same role when she was in high school and coming back to it allowed her to realize her growth as an actor she said. She also took a class on Shakespeare last semester giving her a new perspective on how to approach the work. 

“With Shakespeare there’s a very very specific structure of the text and you have to respect it,” she said. “You can’t just stand up there and say it. It won’t make sense…. When you approach it you have to sit down and look at the structure before you really start looking at emotional connections.” 

Another UA student starting in the play is Alaric Rohl, a junior math and theatre major who’s paying Banquo, a friend and initial ally of Macbeth. Unlike Williams, Rohl hasn’t taken a Shakespeare class yet but he said this production made him want to. 

“I’m not so well acquainted with how to apply the language of Shakespeare as if it were someone’s speech,” he said. “That’s what’s been kind of challenging is finding ways to say it so that it’s comfortable and sounds natural. Which only makes me want to take a Shakespeare class, because it’s been fun trying to figure it out but I do want to have formal training for it.” 

To help the play be more accessible to a modern audience, Cobb went through and tweaked the script, cutting out scenes and lines that he felt were unnecessary to bring the play down to The Rude Mechanicals’s 90 minute time limit.

Nothing was removed that drastically changed the plot of the play, Cobb said. It was more about removing references that were current back then that only a scholar would understand now and changing words to their more modern incarnation. One example would be changing the word scotched to slashed. 

“We have, since the beginning, focused on making it more clear, making the actions and intentions clear and to really articulate the language but still some people are going to have trouble,” he said. “People understand slashed. You don’t want people tripping over these little bitty bits like that. The show doesn’t have anything like that. It pretty much just rolls once it starts.” 

Macbeth will performed every night from Wednesday June 27 to Saturday July 1 at The Park at Manderson Landing if the weather permits. If it doesn’t, the performance will be moved to the Allen Bales Theatre. All performances are free and outdoor audiences can bring chairs or blankets along with drinks and food.

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