Shakespeare’s classic tale of ambition, treachery played to sold-out audiences

Published in the November 23- December 6, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Marty Cheek

Sean Hampel played Malcolm in the Live Oak High School performance of 'Macbeth' earlier this month. Photo by Marty Cheek

Sean Hampel played Malcolm in the Live Oak High School performance of ‘Macbeth’ earlier this month.
Photo by Marty Cheek

Live Oak High School students brought to life Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” a classic tale of ambition and treachery, during sold-out performances this month on the school’s theater stage. Students Jonathan Caro and Hannah Satterlee starred as the Scottish military leader and his manipulative, power-crazed wife who lose their souls in the quest for greater power.

The play was produced by the Live Oak Drama Guild under the direction of drama teacher Andrew Cummings. Caro, a 17-year-old senior, described how fate in the form of three prophecies given by a trio of witches pushed Macbeth to murder his friend King Duncan to take the Scottish crown.

“Macbeth is a regular, loyal guy who did the best that he could for his kingdom,” Caro said. “The witches showed him that he could be king, and so he goes on this journey where he thinks he can be king — but to be king he has to kill people. Throughout the play, he realizes he doesn’t want to kill people because they are his friends. ‘I like my friends, so I don’t want to kill them.’ But his wife, of course, wants to be queen, so she talks him into it.”

Caro prepared for the lead role by learning the script and gaining an understanding of Elizabethan words and phrases through SparkNotes. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the other students performing in the play or serving on the stage crew.

“Just the people here is what keeps me going,” he said of the Live Oak Drama Guild. “They’re a great group of people who are really caring, they don’t leave anybody behind. It’s a great environment here.”

Hannah Satterlee, a 16-year-old junior, played Lady Macbeth as a sinister woman who spurs her husband to slice and dice his victims in order to become king of Scotland. This was her first time performing in a Shakespeare play and at first she struggled with the old style of speaking. But once she found the patterns of the speech, she could perform the play the role more easily.

“It’s tough because you really have to get your point across, and it’s hard when people don’t really understand the language of the time,” she said. “You really have to say it in a specific way and really enunciate everything to make it clear. It’s not a normal type of talking. It’s really interesting because I got really use to it during the rehearsals and everything. It’s just fun the way we talked and I had to make sure people understand me. When I’m reading the lines, I need to be very clear.”

An important part of the success of the play was the guidance given by Cummings in helping the performers reach into their characters, she said.

XXX played Macebeth as a brooding man in conflict with his conscience. Photo by Marty Cheek

Jonathan Caro played Macebeth as a brooding man in conflict with his conscience.
Photo by Marty Cheek

“Andrew is the best director I could have ever had,” she said. “He did a really good job in telling me everything. I’ve always loved acting, so I just really got into the character. That was the character I wanted to do.”

Ben Snook, 17-year-old Central High School senior, played the role of Macduff, the Thane of Fife, a pivotal role in the play.

The Scottish lord at first serves as Macbeth’s right hand man. He suspects Macbeth of regicide and serves as the avenger who saves Scotland from tyranny. The play helps students better understand British literature in their classes, he said.

“He goes on the brink of insanity because he (Macbeth) killed his family,” Snook said of his character. “This is one of the most serious shows I’ve ever done. It’s definitely not as lively as I’m use to.”

Learning the rhythm of the Old English language helped him better prepare for the show, he said. Snook has performed in the South Valley re group and said he enjoys acting as a fun hobby.

“I don’t intend to do it professionally, but I would like to do it more in the future,” he said. “If you’re doing it as a job, where’s the fun to it? You’re held up to such high standards.”