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ESSENTIAL Theatre’s performance of Macbeth at Wild Dog Winery in February was something of a homecoming for director Sophie Lampel.

First published in the 27 February edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy today from retailers across Baw Baw.

Born in Moe, Ms Lampel attended high school in Warragul and has since made a career of acting. With fellow actor and director Amanda LaBonte, she has toured across Australia and New Zealand with popular ‘Shakespeare in the Vines’ performances.

The Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen caught up with Ms Lampel after the group’s local performance.

WBBC: What’s it like to perform in an outdoor space like Wild Dog Winery?

SL: This is like it should be, Shakespeare’s way. I did a fellowship at the Globe Theatre, and when I went there and watched the audience reacting to the performance, this is what we do. It was built for the masses, and so to be out in the natural environment, no stage, nothing major to work with, just the natural background and people that you can see, it’s fun and it’s easy. It’s big, but it’s how it should be.

WBBC: That audience interaction is important to the act, yeah?

SL: I think so. I think with Shakespeare, some people get intimidated. Some people had a bad experience in school with Shakespeare so they don’t want to come and see it, but I think when we bring it out to places like this, and the way we want to do it, it actually just makes it a bit more relaxed and a bit easier. And we want the audience to react, and every night is different with what we do, which is fabulous.

WBBC: Did we hear a couple of modern twists in the script for the performance?

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Above: Macbeth pleads with the witches.

SL: None, they were all there. Absolutely all written in black and white. Things like ‘thanks for that’, they’re all there. Obviously certain lines have such a modern reference so it sounds like it’s something new. A lot of people say to us ‘wow, you modernised the script!’ We don’t modernise the script at all. We cut it a little bit, we edit it, obviously some characters say other characters’ lines because we’ve only got eight actors, but my biggest pet peeve with Shakespeare is adding modern language.

WBBC: This show was part of a larger tour. Are you almost done?

SL: We are just about finished. This is our last Victorian performance.

WBBC: All the shows have been in wineries?

SL: It was originally Shakespeare in the Vines as an idea, but occasionally we get booked by a council. We do a few gigs on the banks of the Murray River, we go to New Zealand, Western Australia, New South Wales, all over Australia on the weekends. So that’s two months pretty full-on.

WBBC: What are you doing when you’re not performing this show?

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Above: as intended: Shakespeare with the people.

SL: Amanda, who played Lady Macbeth, is my business partner in the company. We plan it, we look at the bookings [and so on].

WBBC: So what’s the background of the company?

SL: [We had travelled overseas, came home and] we just wanted some longevity. We had an idea, didn’t think it would become a business, it was just ‘let’s do a Shakespeare in a winery,’ and that was 13 years ago. We’re lucky to be working and paying actors to work, and that’s what’s most satisfying.

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