Macbeth at St Germain

"Macbeth" on 9 and 10 February 2012
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         the theater school at St Germain Hamlet 2010 Claire Lewis and his team

We got 33 tickets for the performance of this piece appearing in B.Ed program for students in first and second current. Twenty to thirty students in the class of 1st International will travel, the other ten are already in the mountains with M Magnac for ski holiday. The remaining 10 seats are taken by students who are enrolled in 2nd theater project since September, and that while their class 2nde1 involved in a project directed by Ms. Trémel in partnership with the park of Brière and EIPC.

We have already seen several pieces of the cast of St Germain in 2003 and directed by Claire Lewis is very good and helps a lot with understanding the texts to be studied.

We leave by bus at 13:30 with a picnic lunch for the end of the afternoon. We will then be hosted by the students of the International School of St Germain and return Friday, we start from the High School at 8:30.

Claire Lewis then come to La Baule for the representation of Our Country's Good on March 2, and we are excited to build such links with St Germain.

  The price of this field trip will be fully supported by the Association of the British section.


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We're back! 

Nearly 900 kilometers of coach in two days, a night's lodging hosted by the St Germain families themselves, -9°C for the morning departure and Friday lunch at 3pm. And why all this, you might ask? To see a play of course!


Not just any play and not just any theatre company! The play, as regular blog readers know was Macbeth, part of the OIB syllabus for the 2013 and 2014 exams. That's a good enough reason in itself to make the journey. Any set text play is so much easier to understand if you have actually seen it acted out. The cast of international pupils from St Germain and their director Mme Claire Lewis have been working on the play since September with 2-hour sessions for the main characters to master the finer points this last week. They have worked on meaning and interpretation and all the spectators have to do is sit back and 'go with the flow'.

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The last three Shakespeare plays (The Winter's Tale at Stratford in September 2010 andMuch Ado at the Globe in May 2011 )  have also been tested on Mr Philippe Sauteron our now veteran francophone parent who provides invaluable insight into how well a play can be understood;  by a non-anglophone after careful reading of a synopsis, and attention to the acting (intonation, gestures and the dramatisation including costumes, sound and lighting). He also does a photo-report that shows how much we actually do in very short 48 hour trips and provides invaluable back-up with the logistics of a school trip down to such important details as offering to wait for the bus to to arrive and guiding it in arctic conditions (-10°c)  while the pupils and staff wait in the heated cafeteria. These are luxuries which are greatly appreciated! 


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Mme Giraud completed the adult team, and is becoming a regular member of the British Section Lycée outings; inveterate theatre-lover and Shakespeare fan, her enthusiasm and implication are total and add to the smooth running of the trip, as does her ability to remind me of who the secondary characters are when I forget!


So which lucky pupils went on this trip? Twenty of the thirty members of  the 1er international class, the other ten were already away on the ski trip and the remaining places were filled by the 2nde cast members of our forthcoming play Our Country's Good. This second group were particularly enthusiastic about seeing another school at work and admitted to a few sympathy butterflies at the thought of the actors in the wings. They also appreciated the opportunity to talk about the experience with their actor-hosts.

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The play itself was brought to life by over thirty actors in a Jazz age night club setting, with the three traditional old hags replaced by 13 silken-clad vamps in red evening dresses whose sinister opening whispers unsettled the audience beautifully. Macbeth and Banquo arrived in suits and fedoras and the play was launched with the witches' tantalizing prophecies of power and ambition. The Cauldron spell became a Jazz impro number and the murder scenes were violent and convincing.

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The Macbeth couple were outstanding; James Edwards played Macbeth with mastery in what we were suprised to learn is his first principal role. His voice was clear and his delivery excellent as he progressively explored his growing ambition and internal torments. Fiona Macklin's Lady Macbeth was a similarly powerful characterization; both sensual and chilling, mocking and later desperate. Again, her delivery of the key speeches was both limpid and stirring with the range from confident and heartless noblewoman to mad, abandoned wreck before her suicide bringing great pleasure to the audience. 


Sample of the student reviews :

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On Thursday February 9th, at around 13:30, we set off on the coach for a 6 hour drive to the Lycée International in Saint-Germain-en-Laye in order to see their adaptation of 'Macbeth'. I was really happy and excited so it went by really fast : we listened to music, chatted about different things and went through our lines for 'Our Country's Good'. As we got closer to our destination, we started seeing more and more snow through the windows which brought a smile to my face because I hadn't seen any for a while. We arrived at around 20:00 and entered the grounds rapidly to make sure we didn't miss the beginning. We went past an enormous Château in which the students from the British Section used to study when it opened in the early 1950's but that it now used as exam rooms. It immediately reminded us of 'Hogwarts'! We then entered the theatre which felt very cosy because the stage was very close to us. We had just enough time to put our bags down and the play began. I had never seen 'Macbeth' before but knew the story and I was blown away by what I saw. The costumes, the lighting, the music, everything looked very professional. After looking at the program, I found out that around 50 people were involved in the project! The main actors, who played 'Macbeth' and 'Lady Macbeth' were exceptional! They embodied the characters extremely well and I could really feel everything they were expressing. They had set the play in the 1930's which surprised me at first but it was nice to have a contrast between the Shakespearian language and the more modern setting. After the performance, Constance and I went home with the Edwards family who welcomed us very nicely. We had a little chat with them learned things about the school, the different sections and activities they offer and facts about the town. The next morning, we all met up in the lycee's cafeteria and left at around 9:00. We watched a film and talked about the play on the way back and then had lunch at around 16:00 at Grand-Air. All in all, it was a really great trip and I hope we'll be able to go and see another play there next year!


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