Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Dramaturge Macbeth: Susie McKenna @ Edfringe2016

C venues – C (Venue 34) ​
Aug 3-20 4.35pm

Music. Ambition. Greed. Murder – A musical adaptation of Macbeth

TWIST Theatre Company (The Way I See Theatre), Hackney Empire’s new graduate company, brings the premiere of a musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, set in the in the cut throat world of the British Music Industry, to C Venues, Chambers Street, for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 – Wednesday 03 to Saturday 20 August. 

TWIST’s Macbeth is a modern tale of lust for power, betrayal and murder within King Records, a thriving international music business based in London.  With an R&B, Grime and Afro Beat vibe, street dance and a lot of attitude this is Shakespeare meets Channel 4’s smash hit hip-hop drama Empire.

The production has been created and is performed by TWIST Theatre Company, a talented new company of young Hackney actors, musicians, dancers and singers (17-21 year olds), who have graduated from Hackney Empire’s Artist Development Programme (13 – 17 year olds). This new theatre company, supported by Hackney Empire, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and The Monument Trust, is the next step on the path to a career in the industry. 

TWIST Theatre Company - The Way I See Theatre - is a creative and political platform for a dynamic and diverse group of young emerging artists, based in Hackney, to tell stories through their own eyes and in a way that feels true. Company members represent different cultures and backgrounds and share and combine their talents, tastes and influences.  With the opportunity to refresh their minds, share their feelings and showcase their talent they create dynamic theatre that is a voice for their generation.

By bringing to life Shakespeare’s Macbeth with a mix of energy, passion and musical styles - Street, R&B, hip hop, afro beat, spoken word, and jazz - TWIST has created their own magic to inspire, challenge and connect with their audience.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I worked with the young company to decide on an original and musical approach to Macbeth.
How could this version be a musical adaptation and what setting would work best for this.
Many of us had been watching FOX and Channel 4’s EMPIRE – set against the US R&B music industry and could identify the analogies to Macbeth. This lit the touch paper for TWIST’s adaptation setting it within the British Music industry and the rise and fall of a Hackney Artists who had used any means possible to become successful in the industry and conquer the World.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
The TWIST ( The Way I See Theatre)  Theatre Company  are all graduates of Hackney Empire’s Artist Development Programme and they were chosen from over 40 applicants from within the programme to form a new graduate company. The creative team are all top professionals who had worked with the young artists regularly for about 4 to 5 years . The Company also has a shadow creative team that will lead the company from within during the Edinburgh run.

How did you become interested in making
These are young artists that I felt needed to make the next step into the industry and Edinburgh Festival is a great experience.  The story and issues surrounding Macbeth - especially set within the British music industry - demonstrates many of the problems some of these young artists face daily and in the future as they begin to enter the Arts industry. The Company also felt that the play and this approach to it would really speak to their peers and a young audience - making Shakespeare accessible to an audience who may not normally choose to see a classic play such as this.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
The process followed the normal practice we use for developing new work with young artists here at Hackney Empire. A week of Improvisation, music jamming, sharings for inspiration and then devising the piece in sections. Then move this along with more formal rehearsals to hone and polish the material created and consolidate the script into a rounded piece.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
TWIST wants the audience to experience Shakespeare in a new and different way – that encompasses the music of today making it accessible and surprising to a young audience. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Rather than a usual piece of musical theater the Company also approached the text using some recitative and rap merging with full blown songs - interspersed with the original text. At times the play will break the fourth wall asking its audience to become members of the MOBO’s audience.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
I think TWIST are very much developing their own style of musical theatre for their generation - and a 21st century sensibility.

TWIST Theatre’s Macbeth is directed by Susie McKenna (Hackney Empire’s Creative Director) with support from assistant director Patrick Miller (Hackney Empire’s Artist Development Programme Head of Drama / Byker Grove).  The production’s musical director is Renell Shaw (Rudimental), the choreographer is Leroy Dos Santos (Flawless) and the lyricist / vocal coach is Theo Llewellyn (1/4 finalist - The Voice 2016). Designer, Lotte Collett, has also worked on the visualisation and design of the project with the company.

In 2010 graduates of Hackney Empire’s Artist Development Programme formed their own theatre company, Hackney Harlem, and performed their production of A Midsummer Night’s Madness at C Venue, Chamber Street, for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  They won The Fresh Air award for Best show, gaining 5 star reviews and playing to packed houses.

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