Justin Tardiff | Monday, November 14, 2005
“Macbeth doth murder sleep.”
For the last 10 weeks, this wasn’t just Act II Scene II line 48 of one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies. It was a rallying cry for 30 young women – extremely tired young women. Women who woke up at 5 a.m. to run after studying until three or slaved over their senior comps or directing finals for hours before heading to rehearsals that sometimes ran past midnight.
Sometimes it was yelled, sometimes it could be read in away messages and sometimes it was softly sighed as the girl thought of all the homework she didn’t have time to do and would have to lose more sleep over.
To the cast and crew of Macbeth, the line rang true – we sacrificed sleep. But it didn’t matter, because what we gained from working on the production was worth losing sleep over. We learned to swordfight, became fluent in Shakespearian language and became comfortable on a stage. We learned tangible things, skills that will be useful later in our lives.
But what we really gained was an intangible, something that cannot be explained. It was the chance to be a part of something bigger than all of us. We spent hours together, onstage and off, bettering our acting and bettering ourselves with the help of the people around us. We became a tight band of brothers mirroring the Scottish clans we were portraying.
And what we came up with was magic. A five night run of a sold out show, a play that turned women into men and brought the dead to life for the audience. Somehow 115-pound girls turned into fierce medieval warriors and three college students, awkward on stilts behind the scenes, became 8-foot-tall witches onstage. It was certainly an experience for all of us, one that will never be forgotten.
In 30 years, I know I won’t remember my lines. I won’t remember how many hours I spent at rehearsal each week. I may not even remember the inside jokes the cast members shared with each other. But what I will remember is that we had them. I’ll remember headbanging to Bohemian Rhapsody in the dressing room before the show, quoting Anchorman incessantly with other members of the cast and mispronouncing the phrase “I am a mother pheasant plucker” on a nightly basis.
I’ll remember the excitement of opening night and the sadness of taking down the set, the pure energy of jumping around to the bouncy soundtrack of our weeks together, and giving everyone in the cast “my best” every night. I’ll remember that feeling of being a part of something bigger than myself, and I’ll remember the other women who, both onstage and off, gave it their all. The managers who fretted over the details, the crew who worked behind the scenes to make them come to life, and the cast member who, though she could not speak, somehow found the voice to share with the rest of us the lesson that the show must go on.
I wish I could give them all a more fitting tribute. But the show ended yesterday, and I think that means it’s finally time to get some sleep.