Tomorrow night, Whirligig Stage will continue to host its Youth Academy’s Macbeth production at 7, and will perform throughout the weekend up until Saturday night.
Artistic Director, Elana Kepner, has been working with the Whirligig Stage Youth Academy, and it’s teen group of adolescents from ages 12 to 18, to produce and perform Macbeth.
“I wanted to pick something that was a little out of the range of what maybe they were going to do at their high school, or what they had experienced before, and some of them had only performed musicals before, so I think it (Macbeth) was a great challenge for this group,” Kepner said.
Some of the performers have come into this performance without knowledge of the Shakespearen tragedy, which is something that Kepner finds amazing. Seeing the kids take to the story with a clean slate has truly allowed for her to see what each actor is capable of, according to Kepner.
“The way that they are able to connect with the text and seeing that connection happen, seeing that kind of ‘aha’ moment in rehearsal, or seeing them tap into something that is a little bit deeper than they’re used to, that’s very rewarding, and I see them connecting to each other in new ways, and I think that’s definitely my favorite part,” Kepner said.
Kepner said being able to be a part of an artistic experience such as this performance is a great way to become closer to the community and to experience all that Greenville has to offer. Macbeth offers entertainment through a medium in which people don’t get enough exposure to, according to Kepner.
Production associate at Whirligig and East Carolina University alumna, Janie Bocanegra, is working with a handful of teens for the Macbeth performance as the technical minds of the show. This group is responsible for many things from costumes to board operating to stage management.
“Not every part of acting and theater tech is not all glamorous, but there are times that I get to see them get really excited to do something, and that just lets me know it’s really worth it, the long days and late nights, and trying to teach that age group something they’ve really not got to learn before,” Bocanegra said.
Being able to see the physical proof of the work and the passion put into the show is reason enough for people to come out to watch Macbeth. These adolescents are giving life to an incredibly deep performance, and that is something truly remarkable, according to Bocanegra.
Adjunct professor at ECU, Gabrielle Brant Freeman, is helping out at Whirligig as a volunteer for the production. Freeman herself has helped with creating props and costumes throughout the preparation for the performance.
After following up on an audition for her daughter last year, Freeman and her family have been participating in productions with the Whirligig Stage Youth Academy ever since, and her son has become involved with the technical side of the performance while also acting.
“I think the biggest benefit is that it’s their team, it’s a ‘team sport,’” Freeman said. “They are part of the team, they work towards the same goal, they learn that it’s very important that everybody to learn their lines and that everybody works together so that the show can come together. All the jobs and all the role are important for the whole.”
The way that the Whirligig Stage Youth Academy explains Shakespeare is unique because it is not like in the classroom where one simply reads the script, but Kepner goes through the script and explains the jokes and makes the play something that is alive compared to reading in a vacuum, according to Freeman.
“This is the best production of Macbeth that I’ve seen. It’s small stage, so you really get to be one-on-one with the story. I think that this is a situation where even if someone came in with no knowledge of Macbeth whatsoever, they would still be able to understand the storyline, they would feel the emotion. It’s really something they should experience,” Freeman said.
Whirligig will host Macbeth tonight, Friday and Saturday. Tickets can be found through the Whirligig Stage website and can be purchased online for $16 general admission and $14 for members.