Hello everyone, and welcome back to Randy’s Awesome blog.
Today I will tell you a story, a story of how I became Kim Jong-Un at the PLP winter exhibition. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but trust me, it’s 100% school appropriate.
In my most recent project, our class has been learning about “Macbeth.” A play that Shakespeare wrote in the 1600s. Similar to our project in grade 10, when we were asked to create a short movie of “Romeo and Juliet.” However, the goal of this project was not to entertain others and act silly. Instead, we were challenged to communicate with our modern audiences through Shakespeare‘s old English. There will not be any silly acting; we will present formally. After all, we would perform in front of a bunch of strangers LIVE. Acting cringe won’t do us or our audiences any good.
As I mentioned, this “Macbeth” project shares some similarities with our “Romeo and Juliet” project. At school, we learned about the plays and analyzed each scene. Through further investigations, we created our reinterpretations in modern contexts. The main differences between the two are the final products. Instead of just using the play’s themes, we used Shakespeare’s language as well. Not everybody understands Shakespeare’s language, so choosing the proper modern context could significantly enhance our audiences’ understanding. After all, the purpose of communicating is not to use fancy language but to let others understand your message.
The other main difference between the final products is the media. In grade 10, we focused on digital media, like films and podcasts. This year, we are focusing more on live performances. Like speeches and shows, where we need to use our public speaking skills to perform our learning. (Check out the “Manhattan Project” project to find out what my first-ever speech looks like) It is challenging for some of us because we can’t just hide behind our cameras anymore. Relatively less work because there is no more editing, but also more stressful because we only get one take.
“Macbeth” vs. “Avatar”
One exciting factor of this project is that not only we are recreating “Macbeth,” but we will also present it at the exhibition. The theme of this winter exhibition is based on “Avatar,” one of the most popular movies of all time. Now the question is, how will our plays connect to “Avatar”? Shakespeare’s work is timeless for multiple reasons, which is why we still study him today. The themes within “Macbeth” can be seen almost everywhere. For example, “Ambition could blind us and lead us to the wrong path in life” this theme is commonly seen throughout history and in our daily life. For instance, when your younger sibling ate all the ice cream and blamed it on you. That could be an example of being blinded by ambition. The most obvious themes in “Macbeth” are ambition, appearance vs. reality, fate, and causes and consequences. These themes constantly occur throughout both “Avatar” and “Macbeth” because they are timeless and universal.
Act 3, scene 1:
In my scene, act 3, scene 1. Macbeth is afraid that all the weird sisters’ prophecies will come true and that no son of his will succeed to the throne. He is worried that he defiled his soul for Banquo’s good and that he needs to do something about it. So he talked to the murderers and convinced them that Banquo was their common enemy. He wanted to murder Banquo and his seeds to prevent the prophecies from coming true. The central theme in this scene is fate; our fate is predetermined by a higher-level being which one’s free will can not change. We can observe this theme throughout the play as Macbeth tries to challenge his fate but fails miserably.
“Come fate, into the list, and champion me to the utterance!” – Macbeth
According to my research, the word “weird” didn’t just mean odd or strange in Shakespeare’s time. It had a deeper meaning of being supernatural, hinting that the witches had superpowers to determine one’s fate. This theme is pretty straightforward in the “Avatar” movie. Since the movie director made it clear to us that Jake Sully was the chosen one, chosen by the mother tree to protect the Na’vi people. Jake’s destiny was predetermined from the start, he had visions of living in Pandora in his dreams, and the mother tree (god) gave him enough plot armour for him to realize that he’s special. He was meant to be a Na’vi, and the first movie’s ending ensured that.
We choose our path (DQ):
However, these themes of “fate,” “destiny,” and “chosen ones” don’t seem to connect to OUR daily life. Personally, I don’t see god walking around all day and telling people about their futures. So how is this theme specifically relevant to us? Well, the theme in “Macbeth”; our fate is predetermined by a higher level being which one’s free will can not change, can be separated into two parts. Our fate/destiny is predetermined, but how we get there is determined by our free will. Our actions come with consequences. What you decide to do eventually leads you to a path in life. These small decisions you make will guide you to that predetermined fate. My group concluded that this is the explanation of our theme, “We choose our path.”
In today’s society, the one common feature that most of us have access to is freedom. You get to decide what you want to do and accomplish in life. This is especially true if you live in America, you can go buy a gun at Walmart go rob a bank. However, all our actions come with consequences. The moment when you walk into that bank and tell the person “Give me all your money”, your fate is predetermined. You’re doomed to be caught and get sent to prison.
Our fate is unknown, but somewhat predictable. Just like Macbeth, he stole the crown, so he was doomed to be overthrown by Macduff. If you study a lot at school, then your hard work will be rewarded. Good grades will get you to your dream college, once you graduate you will find a good paying job. This sounds cliché, but it’s a good example of “The path we choose”.
The timeline was tight, and I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. After all, act 3, scene 1 is one of the longest scenes in the play. My crew and I, Jonathan and Annie, practiced our lines until late at night. We Facetimed each other to memorize our lines together and edited our scripts along the way. Within a week, we gathered all the props and costumes. Even though an outfit wasn’t required, for my character specifically, a suit would be necessary. I wanted to do this performance to the best of my ability, so I don’t have any regrets. I believe that practice makes perfect.
These are some of the footage from the winter exhibition:
I briefly introduced my group in the beginning and exited the stage. After Erin’s performance, I entered the stage again to do a short explanation of my scene. This provided time for my off-stage crew to move the props on stage.
The moment when I said “action,” the pressure was on. It started with Jonathan’s soliloquy, and then I entered and pretended to be making a phone call. Everything went well, like how they were expected. But looking through the footage, I noticed one problem. I tried my best not to forget my lines, so I avoided eye contact with my audience. I was almost staring into the ground the entire time! I looked stressed and showed a lack of confidence. I forgot that communication isn’t just through words; body language counts too. A perfect play is a combination of many factors, including an exciting script, enthusiastic actors, good memorization, and realistic acting skills.
Unlike the speech we’ve done before, in our “Macbeth” scenes, we move a lot to express our message through our body language. During our Manhattan project speech, we stood in a stationary position, and maintaining a good body posture was easy. But keeping that confident posture is very difficult when you are stressed and trying to avoid eye contact on stage. Luckily I noticed this problem early on, which will help me in future projects.
I will logically assume that our future projects will involve more public presentations. Sounding more confident and standing nice and tall will help me to send my message to my audience more effectively.
Overall, I would still consider this exhibition a success. It is my first time performing in a play after all. In PLP, we only advance, so folks, get ready for the spring exhibition!