Guest blog: Lumo Company

Heidi Niemi of Lumo Company talk about taking on Macbeth and the frustrations of men getting all the good parts. Catch macBETH in Calm Down Dear this September.

Finland, 1996. A cinema in little town, the middle of nowhere. On the screen, my new day dream, Leo, kissed his Juliet, and I wished he was kissing me. The movie was AMAZING, but I thought they talked in a bit of a funny way. Baz Luhrmann’s version of Romeo and Juliet was the first ’production’ of Shakespeare’s work that I ever saw. I still think it is a pretty kick ass version. Two years later, I named my new orange kitten ’Romeo’. He passed away this year at the age of 18. I don’t know if that has anything to do with anything, but he was the best cat ever and the story is related to Shakespeare…macBETH Picture

Over the years, I got to know more of Shakespeare’s work and see quite a few productions. Some good ones, some not so good ones. I must say that I only truly fell for Shakespeare when I got know his writing in its original language even though it is pretty difficult to understand. For me it doesn’t really work in Finnish.

One thing that always struck me about Shakespeare was that many of the female characters go crazy or die; or they go crazy THEN die. Don’t get me wrong, I love to play crazy and die on stage, but when I thought of which Shakespeare character I would like to play most, it wasn’t any of the female parts. I just really wanted to be MACBETH, and because I didn’t want to wait for Phyllida Lloyd to ask me to be a female Macbeth, I decided to do it by myself.

I’m quite sick of men taking over all the good parts, so I just thought, that instead of  whining about it, I would do something about it. And to make it more fun I decided that instead of JUST playing Macbeth, I would take on all the roles in the play. Thank God(ess) that my parents never forbid me to make faces. I have found that face-pulling has been very handy in acting and especially in playing multiple roles.

The other day, I met a 5 year old girl who wanted to be a boy, because as a girl she felt that she couldn’t do all the things that boys were doing. This sucks…big time, and I’m on the quest to change it. It’s bloody 2016, and women can do exactly the same things than men. Maybe not peeing while standing…but pretty much everything else.

In developing my macBETH, it’s been quite liberating to get rid of the thought that ’I can’t’ do certain things. Yes, I CAN play Macbeth even if I’m a woman, yes I CAN do all the roles by myself, yes I CAN do Shakespeare in English, yes I CAN speak in iambic pentameter…sort of. And if someone comes and tells me ”No, you can’t”,  I have my sword….just kidding…remember kids, violence in any form is unacceptable. I must say, though, that it’s been quite intoxicating having all the power to yourself…but too much power is never healthy, for men OR women…

Mutli-roling during this show has been like trying to play Twister with yourself. There have been quite a few challenges while doing all the roles on my own.  How can you be in two places at the same time? what do you do when another character has blood on his hands while at the same time you have another character on the stage (also played by you) who doesn’t have a blood on his hands? How do you do a sword fight with yourself? Anyway all sorted…almost…and we are ready for 27th of September.

So, in the name of gender equality and a spirit of playfulness I’m putting up a one woman’s Macbeth. But – next to every great hero there is often a trusty sidekick, so I have asked my friend Gus Kennedy Jacob to join me in this quest. Even though he had no idea about how we would do the show, he said YES! Hooray! Gus has been a great help as co-creator, musican, prompter, lighting designer, stage manager, massager and shoulder to cry on. I COULD have done it all by myself, but it would’ve been so much more boring alone.

I was so thrilled that macBETH was chosen to be part of ’Calm Down Dear’ Festival. I couldn’t think of a better place to do do the first work-in-progress show than at this festival.