Purchase Line Macbeth

The three witches brewed a spell during the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Project performance of “Macbeth” at Purchase Line High School. Student council sponsored the event, which also included a question-and-answer session for students. (Colin Matz/Purchase Line High School)

“Macbeth,” featuring dark twists of deception and hatred, gave students a new way to experience Shakespeare’s writing.

The story of “Macbeth” gives readers insight into the life of a man corrupted by power. Macbeth works his way to the top of the food chain to become a king, getting rid of anyone who gets in his way. Students got a glimpse of this ruthlessness during the play.

The actors from the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Project put plenty of spirit and life into the story. During the play, not a single student could be seen not paying attention.

English teacher and student council co-adviser Danielle Rishell read the play of “Macbeth” with her senior classes. When asked about the performance of the play, Rishell said, “Their interpretation was great, and since we read it, it was more interesting to see it performed.”

“I think the seniors had an advantage over the rest of the school with having a baseline of knowledge about the play,” she added.

During the play, the actors used plenty of the original Shakespearian language, which takes some learning to understand. Rishell’s senior class took a couple weeks diving into these new words and meanings, which helped these students gain a better understanding of the play.

This did not deter many kids from focusing on the play and giving all their attention to the actors.

“I think it is harder to get students to pay attention to a tragedy than a comedy like last year’s play,” Rishell said. While this play did have some comical moments, the bulk of the play had very serious and dark settings being painted by the actors.

The student council was weary at first of the idea of presenting a drama instead of a comedy. However, the council ultimately decided to select the drama for this year’s play. They decided to fund the performance of the play as well as an endowment for bringing Shakespeare to high schools.

The tragedy of “Macbeth” has many lessons within it that can become valuable to students in high school.

Social studies teacher and student council co-adviser Kathleen Cowden said, “I think overall it was a valuable experience for our students.” She added, “It was a challenge to follow the dialogue, but Shakespeare’s themes of betrayal, guilt and courage will always be relevant.”

Students were given a chance to see the story of “Macbeth” unfold before their eyes rather than reading and imagining the scene occurring. When asked if seeing the play helped her to understand the story, junior Terri Bugay said, “Yes, because I could see what was happening and better understand what was going on.”

After the play, the actors came out and engaged the students with a question-and-answer session. Students who were interested in the acting profession were able to get a glimpse into the home life and work life of the actors. The students were also given some insight on other parts of the play production process.