Behind the scenes of Leeds Playhouse’s ‘visceral and vibrant’ Macbeth

Two actors playing Macbeth and Lady Macbeth in the rehearsal room. They are wearing casual clothes and are holding each other very tightly. They look distressed.

The dark, haunted world of Macbeth is starting to take shape at Leeds Playhouse as rehearsals get underway for Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy.

In Director Amy Leach’s and Designer Hayley Grindle’s vibrant, raw and visceral vision of Shakespeare’s thrilling tragedy, ambitious northern warrior Macbeth does whatever it takes to gain power and, ultimately, the throne.

The cast – including Tachia Newall as Macbeth and Jessica Baglow as Lady Macbeth –

is a talented group of actors, each bringing different life experiences and perspectives to enrich the play.

“It makes for richer work, on and off stage,” said Amy Leach, Associate Director at Leeds Playhouse. “As a team that includes deaf and disabled actors, we’re especially enjoying working out how the characters in the world communicate with each other, which is leading to lots of exciting new discoveries about the play.

“I also love hearing Shakespeare when it’s spoken in regional accents and we have a brilliant variety – including lots of Northern ones – in this company. I find I understand Shakespeare’s language and connect so much more to the heart of his characters when the text connects with the landscape that’s present in regional accents. I also think it’s important that the many young people who will come and see this production hear and see themselves represented in the world of the play, to understand that Shakespeare is for them.”

The whole production will be creatively accessible to blind and visually impaired audiences, with audio description built into the play as a creative layer for every performance rather than something that is only heard through headphones for one or two performances.

The rest of the 11-strong cast are: Adam Bassett, who was Associate Director of the Playhouse’s recent Ramps on the Moon production of Oliver Twist, as Macduff; Charlotte Arrowsmith (As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew for the RSC) as Lady Macduff and one of the three pivotal Witches; Benjamin Cawley (Dr Who, Shetland) as Ross; Kammy Darweish (Skyfall, Ackley Bridge) as Duncan; Tom Dawze, known to Playhouse audiences for Our Country’s Good in 2018, as Lennox; Karina Jones (Measure for Measure, As You Like It for the RSC) as a Witch; Shahbaaz Khan (ROAD, Northern Stage) as Malcolm; Gabriel Paul, known to Playhouse audiences from Queen of Chapeltown in 2017 (which also featured Benjamin Cawley), as Banquo; and Bradford-born graduate actor Ashleigh Wilder as a Witch.   

The creative team includes Set & Costume Designer Hayley Grindle, who has created numerous designs for Leeds Playhouse including the incredible sets for Oliver Twist and Hamlet; Associate Director and Audio Description Consultant Ben Wilson; Lighting Designer Chris Davey; Sound Designer & Composer Nicola T Chang; Movement Director Georgina Lamb; Fight Director Claire Llewellyn of Rc-Annie Ltd; Assistant Movement Director Bakani Pick-Up; Assistant Designer (and Leeds Playhouse Resident Designer) Warda Abbasi; Casting Director Lucy Casson; and BSL interpreters Dave WycherleyAlexia Blohm-PainVicci AckroydAnna SmithEmma Dawber and Sarah Cox. Cast members Adam Bassett and Charlotte Arrowsmith are also BSL Consultants for the production.

Leeds Playhouse’s Creative Engagement team will be creating and sharing a range of educational resources with schools to engage with young people across the city, including exclusive access to the rehearsal room, cast and creative team.

MACBETH

A Leeds Playhouse production

Quarry Theatre

26 February – 19 March

Press night: Thursday 3 March

Box office: 0113 213 7700

leedsplayhouse.org.uk

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