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Macbeth’s Collaborative Rehearsals

SSC’s production of Macbeth was not just the product of one director, but a result of what director David Girard describes as “a wonderfully collaborative effort – I had a great cast and was able to empower my actors, and use their strengths not only as actors, but as mentors and craftsman.” One of our actors, Doug Seldin, choreographed all of our extensive fight scenes, often teaching our apprentices sword work from scratch. He also had the luxury of having David Bunce, our Macduff, assist him at certain times (Bunce is also a certified fight choreographer). Leigh Strimbeck, playing Lady Macduff, served as a movement coach for the three weird sisters, developing the vocabulary they would use in eerie vocalization and movement. David Baecker, our Banquo, did some preliminary staging for certain scenes, while actor John Romeo spent an afternoon doing character work with our apprentices. Of course, David Girard led the charge with a clear vision for the action of the show, while allowing Tim Dugan (Macbeth) and Amy Prothro (Lady Macbeth) to work independently at times to find the passion  of their scenes together.

Even our dramaturgy was intensely collaborative, with SSC President Jay Rogoff and Artistic Director Lary Opitz assisting Girard in his cut of the script, while Professor Tonya Moutray (Russell Sage College) and I (Nick Graver, Dramaturg/Intern) both wrote extensively on Girard’s dramaturgy site.

Working together in this way allowed us to utilize as many as three different rooms in Skidmore’s JKB theater at any given time, making it possible to block the entire show in just a few days in a lightning fast rehearsal process.

As Bob Geopfort’s review in the Saratogian noted, “David Girard has not only nursed strong individual performances from his cast, he has weaved them into a cohesive whole, intent on telling a story of how power can corrupt an individual.” This cohesive whole comes from the work of many artists working in a room, collaborating and collectively telling this most wonderful Shakespearean story.