If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me
Macbeth 1.3 144
From 16 to 18 September, The British School in The Netherlands hosted the critically acclaimed open-air touring theatre company from the UK, The Lord Chamberlain's Men. During their visit, the cast put on daytime performances at Senior School Voorschoten (SSV) and led workshops for Year 9 and GCSE and A Level Drama students. Their final act, and pièce de resistance, was the performance Saturday evening that brought together theatre lovers of all ages and the local community, closing out the last of their 80 show run this season.
The Lord's Chamberlain's Men production of Macbeth at the BSN was live theatre at its very best. I was very impressed with the outstanding acting and innovative stage set, and the fact that the cast included a former student made it even more special!
-Heath Monk, BSN CEO
Max Marston reunites with Head of Drama, Hazel Ball
"When shall we three meet again…": A Return to his former stomping grounds
While this was not the first time the BSN community has had the privilege of hosting The Lord Chamberlain's Men, this visit was unique. Max Marston, one of the seven cast members of the company, is a BSN alumnus. In fact, he first saw the touring group in 2012 when they performed Macbeth at SSV. It's hard not to see the poetry of returning to perform the same play he watched nearly a decade ago as a Year 12 student.
"I remember seeing [The Lord Chamberlain's Men], being absolutely blown away by their performance, and thinking they were incredible". Seven years later, Max jumped at the opportunity to audition and was then cast in A Midsummer Night's Dream with the company. Nine years later, he was cast and returned to perform Macbeth.
Max Marston in A Midsummer Night's Dream 2019
As he describes it, there was never a eureka moment; Max has always wanted to be an actor. He joined the BSN in Year 6 at Junior School Vlaskamp and performed his first bit of Shakespeare when cast as Ferdinand in the children's version of The Tempest.
Following the performance on Saturday, Max spoke about how meaningful it was to return to his alma mater.
Genuinely, the BSN was my favourite performance this season because I have a personal connection to the place, and I had the home crowd cheering as well.
"Having the opportunity to work with the students was fantastic. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was a student in one of these workshops, listening to the actors share their experiences and impart their wisdom. Now, being on the other side of that in a bit of a role reversal was an extraordinary experience".
Peter Stickney, Artistic Director and Producer of The Lord Chamberlain's Men, remarked,
"This year was the fifth time that The Lord Chamberlain's Men have visited and performed at BSN. We had to wait an extra year this time for our trip, but it was absolutely worth the wait. It is a huge pleasure to come to BSN, to see the staff who have become good friends, the students who are always excellent and the ever-growing audiences".
This year was an extra special year as we had BSN alumnus Maximilian Marston in our cast. To see him teaching and working with current BSN students was a real pleasure; possibly passing on the torch to a future TLCM company member!
Training Thespians and Aspiring Lord Chamberlain's Men Cast?
The cast worked with Year 9 Drama students, running four workshops (Playing Multiple Roles, Voice and Verse, Cross-Gender Playing and Percussion) and then on Saturday with the GCSE and A Level exam groups (Playing Multiple Roles, Physicality and Verse and Voice).
Hazel Ball, Head of Drama at SSV, explained,
Drama and the arts are a vital part of our education; we need imagination and creativity to go anywhere in this world. Our students gain so much from working with other professionals to see what the possibilities are for life beyond the classroom.
"The workshops given always challenge our students' performance skills and perception of the wider world. We are extremely lucky to be able to work alongside and learn from such dedicated talent".
The Verse and Voice workshop focused on analysing the use of rhyme and rhythm in Macbeth. For example, when Macbeth's lines do not fit in iambic pentameter, what is Shakespeare telling the audience (and actor) about his state of mind? When does Shakespeare use rhyme, and what is the dramatic effect?
Breaking down the text and paying attention to punctuation, the students considered the delivery and pauses written into the lines. As an actor, these details are fundamental to developing your performance and character.
The History of The Lord Chamberlain's Men
Founded in 2004, The Lord Chamberlain's Men takes its name from the company that Shakespeare was part of and for whom he penned some of his most well known and greatest plays. The company perform the plays as the works would have first been experienced: with an all-male cast in an open-air performance, with Elizabethan costume, music and dance.
Interestingly, the original Lord Chamberlain's Men theatre company mainly performed in London until 1598, when the threat of plague forced them to leave the city.
One summer night, they dismantled The Theatre – their home up until that time – and rebuilt it on the other side of the river, thus giving birth to the now famous Globe. In effect, we recreate this act by dismantling our theatre and reconstructing it on a regular basis as we move around the country.
Today, the open-air performance means that the company could tour this summer and give audiences the chance to enjoy live theatre that has not been possible due to restrictions and precautions for the Coronavirus.
"Parting is such sweet sorrow…."
Peter Stickney reflected the unique opportunity of the company's visit:
The school is a wonderful environment to come to, and I believe that all students get a lot out of our visit. Live, in-person events have, recently, become such a rarity, and it was an honour to be able to bring live theatre to BSN. Our relationship is a special one, and long may it last; here's to many more magical nights at BSN.
Until we can next host the theatre company, you can learn more about The Lord Chamberlain's Men via their website: https://www.tlcm.co.uk/.