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Playing one of the witches in an upcoming performance of Macbeth, actress Rachel Winters talks about bringing Shakespeare to Dubai

By David Light (david@khaleejtimes.com)

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Published: Thu 24 Mar 2011, 10:59 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:13 AM

WHEN THE BARD first penned ‘the Scottish play’ over 400 years ago, little could he have known that centuries later it would still be performed as far afield as Darwin, Detroit and here in Dubai. Studied by young adults, appreciated by all, Macbeth has the rare ability to appeal to a variety of theatregoers with its timeless themes and contemporary structure.

Following the journey of the eponymous anti-hero, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, harbours ambitions to commit regicide in order to claim the throne of Scotland. Encouraged by his wife to follow through with his musings, the tragedy portrays Macbeth’s unravelling character and increasing paranoia to an ultimately fateful conclusion.

The debut performance of Macbeth by Globe Education of Shakespeare’s Globe, in association with Deustche Bank and the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, went down a storm in the capital this week and will be on its way to Dubai this coming Sunday and Monday.

As part of the Abu Dhabi Festival’s educational outreach to students and schools across the nation, the Abu Dhabi Theatre was packed with youngsters who had the opportunity to experience this play for the first time. “Every year, for the past five years, Deutsche Bank has sponsored the Globe to put on plays for young adults who are quite often studying the text,” said Rachel Winters, an actress in the production.

“We’ve just done a two-week run on The Globe stage in London and now we are in the UAE, which is tremendously exciting.”

Rachel, who plays a throng of roles including one of the witches, Fleance (Banquo’s son), Lennox (another Thane) and a messenger, is one of 11 performers over from London especially for this event. “The play is a bit shorter than normal, it’s an hour and forty minutes long,” she continued. “We’ve only taken a few parts out. It’s all in Shakespearean language, it’s not been updated except for one bit when the porter comes on and talks about the effects of drink. He will talk to the students and it’s a nice little break in the middle just to relax a little bit.”

Regardless of where they are staging Macbeth, Rachel stated that the reaction is always the same.

“Most people who come aren’t really interested in Shakespeare or know about it, but the fact that they can see it on stage makes it real and exciting. We’ve had really positive feedback after performances. The students get rowdy and quieten down during the intense scenes, which shows they become involved in what we are doing.”

However, in spite of completing only a couple of shows here, Rachel has noticed a difference in the kids’ behaviour.

“The audience here is completely different. They are much more polite!”

It was put to Rachel whether one can only appreciate the works of Shakespeare once having seen it on the stage; they are play manuscripts after all. She replied by relating her experiences with the texts.

“I remember learning Shakespeare in school and for the first few years, didn’t really enjoy it or understand it. I thought it was old fashioned. When I saw it on stage it made it more normal. It makes so much more sense; you’re watching people and watching their body language. The dialogue is far easier to comprehend.”

This is Rachel’s first visit to the Emirates, but her second time with the production. She revealed that doing Shakespeare is very close to her heart and hopes to continue performing at The Globe.

She concluded by saying passing on her aspirations for the play’s Dubai run.

“I hope we get the same positive response we have been getting so far. The school from Abu Dhabi we performed for, many of them hadn’t been to the theatre before and enjoyed it so much. We just want to inspire people and get them interested in Shakespeare.”

Event Details

What: Macbeth

Where: First Group Theatre, Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai

When: March 27, 28

Tickets: timeouttickets.com

Information: 050 907 6158


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