Shakespeare peare without tears

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 June, 1994, 12:00am

DYLAN Tromp used to think Shakespeare was boring. Dylan, 14, who attends King George V, changed his mind after playing Lennox in a youth production of Macbeth at the Fringe Theatre last week.

One thing was clear about the production of Macbeth - whether the actors were 10 or 25, professionals or novices, they all knew their lines.

They were not just using a dead language.

For some, the language was easy to pick up.

''The language wasn't that hard to understand because I've done Shakespeare before, and read a lot of it. We didn't have that many lines to learn,'' said Ruth Barton, 12, from St George's School.

Larissa Kumana, 15, who played a witch, echoed his views.

''It's not so hard to understand, and I don't think many of the younger cast thought so either, because they actually fell into it fairly easily,'' said Larissa, a student at Island School.

But for others, it was a different story.

''When I first started learning the lines, I had to read Penguin Pass Notes for Macbeth ,'' said Jignesh Taylor, 11, who played MacDuff's son.

The notes describe the scenes in modern day language.

''When I started understanding the lines, it got really more enjoyable,'' said Jignesh from the Island School.

Dylan said the Macbeth production was different because director Lottie Ross did something different.

''The first thing I did to the cast when we were rehearsing is we got them to translate their lines into modern-day conversation,'' said Ross, who has a UK theatre degree and much stage experience in New Zealand, Australia and Europe.

Ross had them speak Shakespeare in modern English until they fully understood what it meant.

''We got them the feeling of actually having a conversation. Then just changed it back to the Shakespearean language.'' As Ross put it: ''The Shakespearean language becomes conversation, as opposed to reciting Shakespeare.'' ''She cut some things, and she put it together in a different way, but I think it's more interesting, it's more accessible,'' Dylan said.

After a while, Dylan found the lines just grew on him.

''You just got used to it,'' he said.

''Shakespeare language grows on you. In the beginning, you get the general idea, but you don't understand a few things.

''But then as you go along in the play, especially with what Lottie did like getting us to understand it, you understand what everything means,'' said Lowri James, 12, of Island School, who also played a witch.

Once the lines began to make sense, choreographing the action became a lot easier.

''Once you get to know the story, it's really good,'' said Jignesh. Macbeth was produced by the Hong Kong Youth Arts Festival, which organises and promotes workshops, performances and exhibitions all year round.