City troupe’s Scots tribute to Bard makes world stage

Edinburgh Theatre Arts perform Macbeth at St Ninians Hall in May

Edinburgh Theatre Arts perform Macbeth at St Ninians Hall in May

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THEY are used to performing in the modest environs of the Capital’s church halls.

But a group of amateur actors from across Edinburgh and the Lothians will have to demonstrate their skills in far grander surroundings tonight when they take to the stage of the world-famous Courtyard Theatre in Stratford to perform one of the Bard’s best-known plays.

THEY are used to performing in the modest environs of the Capital’s church halls.

But a group of amateur actors from across Edinburgh and the Lothians will have to demonstrate their skills in far grander surroundings tonight when they take to the stage of the world-famous Courtyard Theatre in Stratford to perform one of the Bard’s best-known plays.

The cast of 19 from Edinburgh Theatre Arts will perform Macbeth entirely in Scots to an international audience as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) World Shakespeare Festival.

The pressure to deliver will be even greater as the group is the only one from Scotland chosen to appear at the prestigious event after RSC officials came to Edinburgh in May to watch their performance at St Ninian’s Hall in Stockbridge.

“It’s a huge privilege – we’re very excited and everybody is right up for it,” said group director Mike Duffy.

“People from outside the RSC do not normally get to perform there.

“One of the challenges for us is that the Courtyard is a thrust stage – a stage with audience members on three sides.

“You have to move and keep turning so that the audience can hear and see you. It’s hard to replicate that in Edinburgh but we have rehearsed well.

“There’s also the fact that if you take St Ninian’s, where we did our preview shows, it seats 65 people. The Courtyard seats over 1000. We are 
talking about a huge difference in scale.

“But it’s a wonderful space – full of atmosphere. There are two galleries that go right round the theatre, and the audience are very close. The front row can put their hands on the stage. It’s very intimate.”

IT project manager Colin McPherson, 44, from Lasswade, who will play the Thane of Ross and the janitor, said performing the play entirely in Scots was a challenge but also key to the group’s success.

He said: “The first barrier that we had to overcome was the language. It’s not spoken in an everyday sense – we had to go back and break it 
down to make sure that we fully understood it. That took up a good bit of the early rehearsals.

“As a native you are familiar with a lot of the words which you have heard previous generations use. And spoken out loud, it’s a language that really brings the play to life.

“There’s an awful lot of colour and passion – it adds quite a bit of darkness, edge, to the scenes in the play.” Mags McPherson, 58, an IT administrator from Duddingston, who will play one of the witches, said it was a particular honour to represent Scotland at the event.

She said: “We are so privileged to have been picked. To be involved in a production of Macbeth in Scots is a tremendous honour.

“The whole cast is so excited. We have really tried to bring individuality to each of the roles.

“And no-one has yet come up to us and said that they cannot understand what we are saying.

“If you know the story of Macbeth, you do not even need a translation. It’s all done through the acting – it’s perfectly understandable.”

johnpaul.holden@jpress.co.uk

‘Royal Shakespeare Company is pinnacle of actor’s career’

FOR many a professional actor, playing the home of Shakespeare, the greatest of all British playwrights, marks the pinnacle of their career.

And for an amateur company, treading boards more used to the footfalls of the acclaimed Royal Shakespeare Company players it is a dream come true, and one that few achieve.

So Edinburgh Theatre Arts should be rightly proud of their invitation to perform at the World Shakespeare Festival. Their performance there will be one that ETA, already winners of an Evening News Drama Award, will remember as the time they held their own against the best in the business.

LIAM RUDDEN