12 - The Michigan Daily - Friday, December 2, 2005
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RUDE MECHANICALS BRING
SHAKESPEARE'S CLASSIC TO 'U'
PHOTOSTORY BY MIKE HULSEBUS E DAILY STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Shakespeare's "Macbeth," LSA junior co-director
Zachary Lupetin says, "gets right to the blood." But
before the first drop of dyed-red laundry detergent
hits the stage of the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre, the cam-
pus theater group the Rude Mechanicals spends hours
rehearsing, timing lights and sound effects, constructing
sets and publicizing their activities in preparation for their
shows this weekend.
And with everything that goes into producing one of
Shakespeare's revered plays, the Rude Mechanicals do
their best to include everyone, even the actors, in the build-
"It helps people feel a lot more involved in the show
- that they have more personal stake in it," LSA senior
and Rude Mechanicals member Mark Vankempen said.
"There's not the one person that comes on and just has a
bit role where they just stand."
In fact, Vankempen plays one of these bit roles: an
unnamed Scottish lord. But behind the scenes, he has not
only designed the programs for "Macbeth," but also cho-
reographed two of the fight scenes.
To assist Vankempen and the rest of the crew, the Rudes
hired The Ring of Steel, an Ann Arbor theatrical combat
guild, to give the actors a two-week crash course in stage
combat and create realistic, well-constructed battles.
"It's a whole type of acting that I'm having to learn right
on the spot," freshman RC student Russell Matthews, who
plays Macbeth, said. Just as the actors must learn to deliv-
er their lines and show emotions believably, so too must
they deliver sword blows with authenticity.
Casting Matthews, whose primary acting experience
consists of a high school role in "Much Ado About Noth-
ing," as Macbeth may seem risky. But the directors have
confidence in their decisions. RC junior and co-director
Emily Chaloner saw them not as people who would not
need to be molded to a role, but as potential performers
well-suited to their part. "When we saw it, we
saw it," she said.
After roles were assigned, the actors were
largely responsible for interpreting them on
their own. Marilia Kyprianides, an RC junior
in the RC who plays one of the three witches,
said, "The directors - their main concept for
the show is that sex is power. That's what they
told us in the beginning, but compared to other
shows I've been in, there hasn't been as much
elaboration on that until more recently. So we've
been more on our own with it."
To help realize their interpretation of the play,
the directors asked English Prof. Ralph Wil-
liams, a noted Shakespeare authority, to have a
discussion with the actors about their roles. Wil-
liams noted that he saw the actors doing what
professional actors do: researching their roles on
their own. "That's absolutely marvelous because
they come to realize and explore the openness,
the inventiveness, of performance in relationship
to the text," he said.
The themes of the play - power, fate, sexu-
ality - show up in everything from the costumes to set
design. The witches, for example, wear costumes pieced
together from the scraps left over from the other char-
acters' costumes, showing how the witches are tied to
everything going on in the play. At the same time, their
tattered costumes show that they are on the margins of
Since September, the students have been preparing for
two to four hours a day, four to five days a week. The
commitment increases as show's opening nears. As cast
and crew drilled together platforms on Monday, co-pro-
ducer and LSA senior Al Duncan spoke about how the
performance has coalesced: "A week and a half before the
show, you're freaking out that things aren't going to come
together. You've never rehearsed it all through with sets,
props, costumes and everything, and then you get here and
it all magically happens."
Beyond this bonding experience of working to bring a
show together, participating also gives members an expe-
rience that they may otherwise not have had. While other
campus theater groups have leads filled primarily by voice
and theater majors leaving lesser roles to students in other
schools, the Rude Mechanicals bring together students
from a variety of the University's different schools and
gives them an opportunity when they otherwise wouldn't
have it. Vankempen, once a Musket chorus member, said
that he finds his current experience with the Rudes "by far
the most fun."
And for the cast of "Macbeth," the experience concludes
this weekend with three shows at the Lydia Mendelssohn
Theatre. Matthews feels that the quality of the show
and the cultural level in Ann Arbor puts people in seats.
"(With) the type of play that Shakespeare wrote, you can't
get this in any other play: the emotions that you see char-
acters go through, the conflicts they reach, the climaxes
and everything is structured so perfectly."
"As students the become actors, but as actors theyfind
the necessity obeing more and more deeply, students."
- English Prof Ralph Williams.
at 8 p.m.; Sunday
at 2 p.m.
"A crew of patches, rude mechanicals,
That work for bread upon Athenian stalls,
Were met together to rehearse a play."
- Puck in William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream
Top to bottom, left to right:
RC freshman Russell Matthews,
delivers an aside during a dress
Jackie Laurlan, LSA and Music
junior, applies makeup for her role
as Lady Macbeth before a dress
Rebecca Sonday, LSA and
Engineering freshman, works on
a row of lights. Sonday served as
lighting designer for the show.
Jackie Laurlan auditions for co-
directors Emily Chaloner and
Zachary Lupetin on Sept. 19.
Lighting designer Rebecca Sonday,
stage manager and LSA senior
Kate Hutchens, Emily Chaloner,
and Zachary Lupetin sit in the
house making the dress rehearsal
run as they get check cues,
lighting, and the overall feel of the
Engineering lunior and co-producer