LFA brings its take on Macbeth to the Illinois High School Theatre Festival

Rachel Johns, Staff Writer

On January 10th, the cast and crew of Lake Forest Academy’s production of Macbeth embarked on a three-hour bus ride to Illinois State University, to showcase their production for the 45th annual Illinois High School Theatre Festival.
The Illinois High School Theatre Festival is held annually by the Illinois Theatre Association. With over 4,000 attendees each year, it is the largest and oldest noncompetitive theatre festival in the country. This year, LFA was among the over two dozen high schools that were invited to put on their productions. The festival also has over 150 workshops festival-goers can participate in.
Since the festival was after winter break the cast essentially had to relearn the entire Shakesperian play over their break, so that they would be ready to perform when they got back. After school started again in January, the cast only had two days to rehearse before going to the festival.
Cast member Emily Hawkins ‘21, who attended workshops on the subtleties of acting and musical theatre improvisation, said that the workshops were, “altogether fun, creative, and educational…They provided unique insights into problem solving on stage and techniques.”
Of course, the most memorable moment for the students was performing their unique adaptation of Macbeth in an intimate black box theatre that seated about 150 people.
“The audience was so close that they could probably smell you sweating. Being able to be in that space created a new dynamic. It gave me the desire to engage with the audience more and to bring out more emotions than I would have initially thought to,” said cast member Sophie Waimon ‘20, who played Lady Macbeth.
The adaptation took on a militant, gender-fluid spin, with Flora Zhai 22’ playing the title character of Macbeth. The Shakespearean play was adapted in this way in order to bring out culturally relevant themes for the modern, changing world.
“Keeping [the play] in a medieval context would have been alienating for the audience and a little bit silly having everyone stomping around dressed like knights and having sword fights. Macbeth’s messages about ambition and violence are also more true now than they have ever been,” said director Matt Boresi.
LFA’s production of Macbeth was originally performed on October 17th at LFA, where three judges, associated with the festival, observed and took notes on all aspects of it from set design to soliloquies. Based off of their reviews of the performance, the judges recommended the play to a committee downstate, who made the final decision of which productions would be put on at this year’s festival. Lake Forest Academy’s version of the Scottish Play ultimately made the cut and was one of the few schools that got the opportunity to perform at the festival.