BATTLES LOST AND WON; AN IMMERSIVE JOURNEY THROUGH THE WORLD OF MACBETH
Battles Lost and Won was an immersive theater show created for my senior project. Based on the Shakespeare show, Macbeth; we used much of the original text, cut down for clarity, with original one-on-one monologues written by NWU student, Chase Knueven. The cast was cut down to 13 characters (with nine people cast as the Witches). The show had two performances each night of May 1-3, 2017, with invited audience attended dress rehearsals the week before. This show was completed for 3 credit hours in THTRE-4990-01- Senior Theater Project, with a final grade of an A.
I got the idea for Battles after seeing Sleep No More by Punchdrunk in 2015. And after watching Bluebarn Theater’s production of Walk the Night; Where Madness Lies, I knew I wanted to be a part of immersive theater, so I decided my senior project would be to create an immersive theater production.
After casting the show in November 2016, I began to work on individual scripts that outlined each character’s track and lines they would have for the show. We ended up with 13 scripts total, each differing from the other.
Rehearsals began individually. I would walk each actor’s track with them so they could get a sense of what their character would be doing during the show. Then we began to rehearse individual scenes so the actors could work on the text. Once we had finalized a playlist of songs that would be playing during the production, we began rehearsing with music. Soon after we threw in fight and dance choreography. And before opening we had several dress rehearsals where test audiences were invited to help the actors get used to connecting with a larger audience.
The show was well received by student audiences and faculty as well. It was an exhilarating and crazy experience that I was so lucky to have, and I hope to take what I learned from it and implement it into future immersive projects.
Below is a gallery of photos taken during a dress rehearsal by Scott and Brooke Bosworth. Also included are script samples put together for the actors. Other materials such as track sheets, full scripts, and show footage are available upon request.
What fine work I saw last night. I cannot recall any other student-developed, student-directed, student-performed show at Wesleyan that even comes close to your achievement. It was innovative, masterful, and exceedingly well-integrated with Shakespeare's original text. My concern had been (privately) that the effort might diminish the effect of Shakespeare's play; on the contrary, I believe your approach enhanced it.
I can only imagine how much work you and your team must have put in to make this production happen. I can only say it paid off handsomely.
I don't know if you noticed that our resident bat flew through the stage just before the production began. Talk about setting the mood! I think you had control of all the mammals in the building.
Thanks for your excellent work. Please convey my praise and thanks to your entire cast and crew for jobs well done. Art won last night.
Roger A. Cognard
Professor Emeritus of English from 1971-2008
Dear faculty and staff,
I went to the show developed by Leah last night and just wanted to encourage anyone who has not seen it to attend.
The show is creative, well-rehearsed, and something very different than anything we do here on a “normal” basis. They use the entire theatre with sound and lights to accent the action. The cast is between 25 and 30 (I did not count) and WE CAN BE PROUD! The Direction was superb to say the least. The planning and detail were excellent. I’m not sure who did the costume and make-up, but they were creative and very well executed. And, the acting was far above “university theatre acting”.
There are so many more compliments I could share but I’ll hold off. I hope some of you who saw the show will chime in as well.
This is definitely worth the journey and I for one learned a great deal about directing, commitment, and how talented all our students are.