AWHS drama puts on a show-stopping performance of Macbeth


Brody Rhodes

Students performing in AWHS production Macbeth on their opening night, Wednesday 17th

Brought to life by the talented drama students of Archie Williams High School (AWHS), Macbeth, which opened on Wednesday, Nov. 17, is a timeless and captivating play. This year, the production is held on the AWHS campus outside the Little Theater due to COVID-19 safety precautions. The outdoor theater situation does not hinder the performance, as there is elaborate, mood-setting lighting that highlights actors’ faces without masks and large set pieces. Directed by Jasper Thelin and seniors Sascha Nikolai and Audrey Daniel, the AWHS interpretation of the classic Shakespearean tragedy is a must-see performance due to its captivating acting and theatrics. 

Shakespeare wrote the play Macbeth in 1606. The story, however, is set in the eleventh century in the High Middle Ages. Macbeth centers around the Scottish general Macbeth, who receives a prophecy from three witches that he will be the next king of Scotland. Eager to make this prediction his reality, Macbeth asks his wife for advice on accomplishing this task. Lady Macbeth urges him to kill the current king and take over his throne. After accomplishing their task, Lady Macbeth and Macbeth start experiencing mental breakdowns due to their guilt. From there, everything begins to spiral out of control.

The story of Macbeth may be confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the play, but viewers who understand the story will appreciate the plotline for its complexity, emotion, and thrill.

Students acting in Macbeth on their opening night (Brody Rhodes)

“I think it’s a very fun tragedy,” said Evan Pierce, AWHS senior who plays Macbeth. “…it explores a lot of fun themes about gender, power, greed, and ambition.”

Since the AWHS drama stopped performing last year due to COVID-19, cast members are ecstatic to be back on the stage. 

“It’s my senior show, so I really like the drama class, it’s really fun. Especially after the COVID pandemic, we’ve tried to bring it back into full force for this show,” said Lil Jansen, who plays Banquo and the First Apparition, and who also works on the production as a stage manager.

The acting in this performance was incredible. The performers convey intense and complex emotions and bring their characters to life through varying tone inflection in their voices and movements. While the old English language may be challenging to interpret, the actors do an excellent job portraying the story and the dialogue through their body language and facial expressions.

Senior Evan Pierce plays a convincing Macbeth, with challenging monologues delivered seemingly with ease. Lil Jansen, also an AWHS senior, acts as Banquo, Macbeth’s best friend, with ghostly stares that will give you chills. Junior Ashleigh Farnsworth does a terrific job with the role of Lady Macbeth, displaying anger and fear with yelling, quiet muttering, and even blood-curdling screams. AWHS senior, Sascha Nikolai, provides comic relief through her role as Porter, the king’s doorkeeper, in light of the continuous tragedy in the play.

The entire cast is confident in their lines and blocking on stage, as there are no hesitations that break the illusion of the scene. Everyone, from the supporting roles to the leads, shine in the spotlight, even if they only have a couple of lines. 

We’re all very different, but we’re all coming together for a common goal of putting on the show,

— Lil Jansen

“Everyone works really hard [to prepare for the show]. It’s really interesting to see how everyone else brings their characters to life,” Ashleigh said.

The tech crew works efficiently to provide rapid scene changes. Drama students play drums offstage as “techies” and actors help each other transition into the next set.

In addition to the outstanding acting and an experienced tech crew, the performance is brought to a higher caliber due to the quality of the set, costumes, makeup, and props. 

“I really like it because we’ve incorporated a lot of blood and makeup into the show, which is a little freaky when you first start to work with it, but I think it is really fun,” said senior Reese Warner, who is a stage manager and plays Banquo and the First Apparition.

The intricate costumes resemble outfits from the time period Macbeth was set in. The performers wear detailed makeup that transforms them into different ages and people. There is also an implementation of fake blood into the outfits to show the injuries characters sustain through the show, as well as special effects that make it seem as if performers are actually bleeding.

This play put on by AWHS drama transcends the excellence of a typical school show and transports the audience into the Shakespearean story. Even in the dress rehearsal, the show ran without any interruptions. 

The witches spinning prophecies in AWHS production Macbeth (Brody Rhodes)

“Drama is such a cool, fun, unique thing to do in your high school career. It really builds community and all the people in drama are so nice and thoughtful,” said junior Maddie Barbee, who plays Lady Macbeth and Gentleperson. 

The bonds between students are apparent on stage as the actors are familiar with each other and bring a strong sense of interaction and reliance.

“We’re all very different, but we’re all coming together for a common goal of putting on the show,” Lil said.

With strong collaboration and collective efforts by every single member of the show, stellar acting, and a dynamic plotline that comes together to create a memorable production, this performance of Macbeth is a 9/10 show, well worth your time. 

Watch the play on Thursday, Nov. 18 at 4:30pm, Friday, Nov. 19 at 8:30am and 3:00 pm, or Saturday, Nov. 20 at 2:00pm!