You’d never know that off of Route 6A, down a dirt road about a half mile from the sign that gleams “Cape Rep” beside a big yellow house, a creative community is growing and alive within the restored theaters tucked behind the trees.
But Director Maura Hanlon and her troupe of actors know exactly where to go to find creative respite three times a week. Cape Rep Young Company Initiative (YOCO) is busy re-creating Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” the classic tragedy depicting prophecy, paranoia and greed, the rise and fall of a king and the ensuing bloodbath.
With six rehearsals left to perfect each choreographed scene, Hanlon is in her element. The 12 talented young people in the company are working feverishly on their first performance together, under the gentle guidance of a seasoned pro. This program is Cape Rep’s newest addition. Cape Rep has been alive with performance art since 1986, and YOCO is providing a new creative outlet and camaraderie for youth across Cape Cod.
When asked “Why Shakespeare?” Hanlon’s bright blue eyes shone with excitement.
“We picked Shakespeare because it requires your body, your breath and the text. They don’t teach that anymore,” she said.
Prior to serving as director of Cape Rep Young Company Initiative, Hanlon had more than 18 years experience teaching acting to young people in the local Cape Cod community.
As the troupe rehearses, Lady Macbeth (Camille Lajoie) sits off-stage memorizing her lines. Hanlon works to choreograph one of the most famous scenes in the play: Macbeth (played by Baylie Hartford) is in the forest with MacDuff (Nell Daisy Hamilton) where they encounter the witches played by Ian Hamilton, Wil Moser, and LeVane Harrington. The only things potentially more evident than the unbelievable amount of talent in the room are the friendships within the group, as goofy faces and taunts are shared between scenes.
What is absolutely apparent is the professionalism that is channeled throughout the building. As you walk past the main auditorium, past the rows of costumes and into their working studio, the mirrored walls mimicking the actors gestures as they strike one another, hitting their marks upon the stage, looking to Hanlon for detailed guidance at each impasse.
As the group sets up the scene for the twelfth time that evening, a few of the girls clustered together offstage. Madison Mayer (as Duncan/Macduff), Alyssa Freeman (playing Malcolm) and Raquel Wallace (supporting the Witches) are all wearing Converse sneakers and sweatshirts, congregating on the side politely waiting their turn. When asked if they attend the same schools, Wallace explained that several of the actors, herself included, are homeschooled. Hanlon later added that the current group includes students from Centerville to Eastham, and that Cape Rep’s YOCO invites people of all experience levels, ages 13 through 20, to join.
“These kids get professional training: text analysis, vocal training, and fighting/fake combat. And best of all? It’s free.” said Hanlon.
After watching Hanlon work with the performers, it became apparent that she is a catalyst to this enterprise. With each step there is a movement. When dialogue is rehearsed, Hanlon stops to explain the meaning of the words.
“So foul and fair a day I have not seen,” Macbeth says.
“Yo, dude, that was a great battle right?” Hanlon translated for the actress. “You just had a great day with your buddies,” she explains, both un-garbling and contemporizing the attitude and portrayal of the scene at hand.
“This is our 'Hamilton Macbeth',” she joked, referencing the award-winning Broadway play while making light of her Shakespearean translation.
Hanlon makes it her priority to treat each of her proteges as “an adult.”
“All of these people had to audition. They had to receive that feedback and understand why they were cast in the roles they got,” she said. Hanlon dispels favorites, ensuring that each actor and actress gets a chance to play a lead.
“Macbeth,” in its subtleties and grander moments, is only a starting point for the actors and the YOCO program alike. The program is brand new and has the potential to bring talented minds together to create things much grander than themselves. Like a play.
The excitement surrounding “Macbeth” is palpable. Upon entering the indoor theater, Shakespeare lovers and creative people alike will immediately feel as though they’ve found an undiscovered piece of their community. The experience of their directors, these talented youth and their incredible work ethic should all make for a wonderful premier play for YOCO.
“Macbeth” opens April 14 at 7 p.m., and will be performed twice on Saturday, April 15, at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 and all proceeds will go to supporting Cape Rep’s Young Company Initiative. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the box office at 508-896-8888 or visit CapeRep.org.