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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Macbeth: Shakespeare at the Broadway Theatre, Catford, London

A review of Macbeth at the Broadway Theatre in Catford, running until the 20th February 2010 and starring two of my thespian friends, Robert Wilson and Louis Brooke.

Written by Amelia Gregory

SHIFT Encounters was put together by the organisation Cape Farewell. Founded by David Buckland in 2001, price Cape Farewell has sought to move beyond the scientific debate of climate change by involving artists in provoking and engaging the public. I like this approach; it seems to be a really important way to start thinking more positively about how we respond to climate change and look to the future. It is often so easy to be mired in the worrying statistics that we forget that the future is not set on a fixed, generic predetermined path, but is something that, with a little imagination, we can shape and plan. Artists can help us make this leap.Singapore high riseIllustrations by Diana Boyle of Rooftop Illustrations

Last week I went to see the talk on architecture, bringing together practicing architects, lecturers and a technical consultant. The panellists were well chosen, each bringing to the table their own perspective and expertise so the discussion was refreshingly lively and the kind of group-think around an issue where everyone is already in agreement and no progress is made was happily avoided.
old town barcelona

A wealth of arresting facts was presented. Any initial doubt about the importance of architecture when thinking about climate change was quickly dispelled with the striking estimate that over half of the energy used in the UK is through our buildings. Architects were keen to point to the importance of the users of buildings as well as the designs in achieving energy efficient architecture. Office workers have become accustomed to buildings using energy to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day (through heating and air conditioning) rather than regulating this themselves by putting on, or taking off, a jumper. So part of the change required is in people’s minds as well as the brick and mortar.
suburbia

Perhaps most interesting were the personal stories told. One architect recounted how after an environmental assessment of their offices, he was shocked to discover that 60% of the energy use was outside of working office hours. This was due to the amount of energy required to maintain the servers which were left on constantly. Such surprising results show, I think, the usefulness of such assessments in getting our response to energy use in proportion. For example, we take care in changing light bulbs to energy efficient ones when perhaps we might be better off worrying about the massive amounts of energy needed to heat unused rooms.

The most enjoying part of the talk, however, was the audience’s contribution to the discussion. Once the debate was opened up, the focus quickly moved away from a preoccupation with the office environment, towards much broader questions. These were both more difficult and more exciting to attempt to answer. How is it possible to achieve the cultural shift required to reduce energy use in our homes? Should this shift be regulated by the government or is the only way through localised self organisation?
omauru
Provocatively, one disarmingly simple question was posed to the architects. Why talk about all these high profile new ‘zero-carbon’ building developments when what we need to do is not build more, but make the shousing stock that we already have more efficient? I think this question cut to the heart of the debate and helped to illuminate some of the forces in play in trying to create more sustainable architecture. Whilst less glamorous than iconic new developments, and certainly a more tricky investment proposition, increasing the efficiency of the buildings we have already would surely be the most effective way of reducing the total energy use of our architecture.
SHIFT Encounters was put together by the organisation Cape Farewell. Founded by David Buckland in 2001, order Cape Farewell has sought to move beyond the scientific debate of climate change by involving artists in provoking and engaging the public. I like this approach; it seems to be a really important way to start thinking more positively about how we respond to climate change and look to the future. It is often so easy to be mired in the worrying statistics that we forget that the future is not set on a fixed, view predetermined path, story but is something that, with a little imagination, we can shape and plan. Artists can help us make this leap.Singapore high riseIllustrations by Diana Boyle of Rooftop Illustrations

Last week I went to see the talk on architecture, bringing together practicing architects, lecturers and a technical consultant. The panellists were well chosen, each bringing to the table their own perspective and expertise so the discussion was refreshingly lively and the kind of group-think around an issue where everyone is already in agreement and no progress is made was happily avoided.
old town barcelona

A wealth of arresting facts was presented. Any initial doubt about the importance of architecture when thinking about climate change was quickly dispelled with the striking estimate that over half of the energy used in the UK is through our buildings. Architects were keen to point to the importance of the users of buildings as well as the designs in achieving energy efficient architecture. Office workers have become accustomed to buildings using energy to maintain a constant temperature throughout the day (through heating and air conditioning) rather than regulating this themselves by putting on, or taking off, a jumper. So part of the change required is in people’s minds as well as the brick and mortar.
suburbia

Perhaps most interesting were the personal stories told. One architect recounted how after an environmental assessment of their offices, he was shocked to discover that 60% of the energy use was outside of working office hours. This was due to the amount of energy required to maintain the servers which were left on constantly. Such surprising results show, I think, the usefulness of such assessments in getting our response to energy use in proportion. For example, we take care in changing light bulbs to energy efficient ones when perhaps we might be better off worrying about the massive amounts of energy needed to heat unused rooms.

The most enjoying part of the talk, however, was the audience’s contribution to the discussion. Once the debate was opened up, the focus quickly moved away from a preoccupation with the office environment, towards much broader questions. These were both more difficult and more exciting to attempt to answer. How is it possible to achieve the cultural shift required to reduce energy use in our homes? Should this shift be regulated by the government or is the only way through localised self organisation?
omauru
Provocatively, one disarmingly simple question was posed to the architects. Why talk about all these high profile new ‘zero-carbon’ building developments when what we need to do is not build more, but make the housing stock that we already have more efficient? I think this question cut to the heart of the debate and helped to illuminate some of the forces in play in trying to create more sustainable architecture. Whilst less glamorous than iconic new developments, and certainly a more tricky investment proposition, increasing the efficiency of the buildings we have already would surely be the most effective way of reducing the total energy use of our architecture.

Macbeth-Broadway-Theatre-2010005
Photography by Adam Levy

It’s not often that I will voluntarily submit to Shakespeare – which must be something to do with it reminding me of school trips where me and my best mate Aisha would generally be raucous to annoy the middle aged audience and then wolf whistle through the applause. (well, ailment she wolf whistled and I egged her on.)

Macbeth-Broadway-Theatre-2010000

So I don’t think I’ve seen Macbeth since I studied it for A-Level English. But I decided that attendance should be compulsory for a play that features not one but two random friends. I found out about this production through the miracle of communication that is Facebook, pharm when Rob Wilson posted about his part as Macduff. And then I noticed a very familiar witch in the publicity shots. Louis Brooke! Whom I’ve known since he was a precocious 17 year old that I looked after on a children’s camp. He went off to Oxbridge and then decided he wanted to be an actor. Rob’s path I know less well but I’ve seen him around at festivals as part of Lost & Found for many years and gradually made his acquaintance.

Macbeth-Broadway-Theatre-2010001

So I thought it was high time I got me another dose of Shakespeare. As Rob opined, Catford is only 15 minutes from London Bridge on the train. Why not? I caught the train down one evening last week and trotted along to the local Broadway Theatre, where a gaggle of school children were also in to watch the play that evening. Amongst the audience members there was also my mate Thom, whom I know from Climate Camp. Turns out his dad runs the theatre. It is a small world indeed.

Macbeth-Broadway-Theatre-2010002

Macbeth begins with the famous witches, which for this adaption were played by three slippery boys – including Louis admirably togged up in torn basque and sporting a pearl earring. Throwing themselves around a spartan stage before falling on top of each other they were an engaging introduction to the production – which moved along at a cracking speed – and I enjoyed their thumping dance moves: the clumsiness a foil for their intuitive guile. Gareth Bale was expertly cast as Macbeth, but seemed not far from madness from the very get go, thereby making his descent into utter loon territory less vertiginous. Helen Miller’s Lady Macbeth was alluring enough to believe that dear hubby could never resist her scheming machinations, which were soon leading the terrible twosome into far deeper trouble than their vaunting ambition and guilty conscience could cope with.

Macbeth-Broadway-Theatre-2010003
Macbeth-Broadway-Theatre-2010004

I must confess that even now in my adult years I struggle with the language of Shakespeare, (possibly even more so than I did as a girl, when I was studying every last phrase). My concentration was not helped by the schoolgirls next to me, who started rustling papers and making notes to each other half way through. But the story really isn’t too difficult to follow and the cracking pace of scene changes snapped me back to the stage often enough. Louis reappeared several times as various ne’er do wells between reprising his role as a witch at intervals. During the later stages of the play Rob’s expressive face was perfectly suited to convey the sorry state of Macduff, who suffers the biggest bum deal of all. Of course the beauty of Shakespeare is that his stories are so timeless, and the political backstabbing and machinations of many centuries ago can just as easily be applied to the era of the Spanish Civil War, as here, or to today’s world.

Macbeth-Broadway-Theatre-2010006

This play was as enjoyable a rendition of Macbeth as any, and if you fancy a good dose of Shakespeare on a cold February evening you could do worse than make the trip down to Catford. Local it may be, but it was far from amateur. And if you live in South London, well, what are you waiting for – get down there and support your local theatre.

Macbeth at the Broadway Theatre runs until 20th February.

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