Hurlyburly in the Crum
Jacqueline Vitale ’09 staged a production of Macbeth in Crum Meadow that held audience members spellbound
Doings foul and fair were afoot in Crum Meadow during the first three evenings of May. Strangely costumed figures vaguely reminiscent of ancient Scotland—their skin painted in ornate black patterns—moved around a flaming campfire replete with cauldron at the center of Crum Henge’s stone circle. Standing pillars and mighty trees were witness to passionate encounters and whisperings of murderous plots. From their lair on the creek, a ragged, crook-backed trio hobbled forth, staring with empty eyes into the distance, muttering in low tones filled with the threat of dire deeds to come, then pointing with craggy fingers at those who crossed their path. In the quadrant formed by the girders of the railway trestle, loud voices declaimed the joys of victory, the anguish of betrayal, and the horror of murder. Music drifted on the breeze—now animated, now melancholy, now haunting, now lamenting—from four wind instruments and a drum.
Such was the scene of a most unusual production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, (watch: Macbeth players in action) with an awed audience following the actors from scene to scene through a meadow veiled in amber light from the evening sun, as ambitious Macbeth and his even more ambitious spouse plotted to seize the throne from Queen Duncan and succeeded, only to perish in a spiral of tyranny, violence, suicide, and vengeance. Spectators became participants in the tale, invited to rejoice, grieve, dance, even feast at close quarters with Macbeth and his lady and Queen Duncan and her courtiers—and finally mourn as the noble Macduff dispatched the misguided and doomed Macbeth with a meat cleaver on the bank of the Crum. The sun dipped behind treetops, and dark clouds gathered, as Nature, in complete accord, produced a sudden, superbly timed downpour, shedding its own tears on the scene.
Jacqueline Vitale ’09, an honors theater major who chose Macbeth for her directing thesis, could hardly have picked a more stunning setting for her play. Grassy trails, trees and tree stumps, rocks and standing stones, the metal girders and the stone foundations of the trestle, and the river all provided backdrops as the plot unfurled. Even the local trains became unexpected visitors, hurtling high above every half-hour or so like anachronistic magnets attracting the gaze of actors and spectators—an irresistible force that seemed to portend the coming catastrophe.
Sound designer Daniel Perelstein ’09, an honors music and engineering double major, reworked music by The Kinks to provide a score that served well as his honors music thesis; Carmella Ollero ’09 choreographed the piece; Emma Ferguson ’10 conceptualized the set; Allison McCarthy ’09 designed the costumes, which were all sewn by hand; Logan Tiberi-Warner ’11 created the body art; and guest artist Kate Watson-Wallace was responsible for space and movement dramaturgy.
Photographer Eleftherios Kostans has been a part-time member of the publications staff since 2005, after freelancing for the College since 1994. His other freelance work has appeared in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States, Eastern Europe, and the Mediterranean. Passionate about exploring his Hellenistic background, Kostans plans to produce a photographic documentary of Hellenism from East to West.