Analyzing 'Macbeth'


   Applicably timed for the spookiest of holidays, junior A level English classes attended one of William Shakespeare’s most famous, yet gruesome plays filled with witches, spirits, and a search for power.

    “I think it was a good experience to see real-life people acting in character, to compare it to what we were reading in class,” said junior Ben  Thomson. 

     Few high school students are exposed to live theater and dance. Giving this experience to young people will provide them with new opportunities and experiences.

Flock Theater in New London hosted 120 ELHS students to see the play.

   “Macbeth” “presents a tangled web of manipulation, ambition, fear, and strength,” according to English teacher Sara Nazzaro. 

    “It’s a shared experience and has a different medium. It’s much more interesting to see the actors play off each other, to feel the reactions of your fellow audience members when they are surprised or confused or grossed out,” said English teacher Jeannine Barber. 

     This is the first year that students have gone to see the play as a class to help give readers a better feel for the story.

     “In previous years, our students have wanted to go see the ‘Macbeth’ play to experience it as it was meant to be: seen not read. This year, the junior A teachers changed our curriculum so we are only reading small sections of the play and looking at those in more depth. Seeing the full play gave our students some context before we began the reading,” said English teacher Abigael   Catsam.   

     Meg Allen, junior production manager of Flock’s “Macbeth,” encourages a young audience to immerse themselves in the emotions and process of theater. 

     “I think it’s important for students to see Shakespeare and harder to understand texts, because the hope is they begin to understand the text. Plays like ‘Macbeth’ are meant to be seen, not read, and it doesn’t really make sense unless it’s on its feet,” said Allen, who also worked on sound and light for the performance. 

     In addition to being educational, students also emphasized how interesting and beneficial it was to learn from resources outside of the   classroom. 

     “The play was a good experience it really helped get the gist of the play and was fun to watch, especially with all the kids in our grade,” said junior Ben Hollaway.

     The decisions Flock theater made when producing the show encouraged students to think deeper into themes. 

     “Something really special we do is having the witches entirely use sign language which adds a more inhuman vibe. With the lighting, the audience doesn’t get to see the witches move,” said  Allen. 

     English teachers hope that this experience will help students with analyzing writing. 

     “Seeing ‘Macbeth’ helped students understand the relationships between characters and better understand major themes. Facial expressions, body language, and the setting all work together to build a meaningful understanding of the story,” said Ms. Nazzaro.

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