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After four years of performing new contemporary works, I’ve finally decided this year that I will at least perform one classical play – particularly Shakespeare’s works. Coming from Malaysia where our education systems did not make it compulsory for students to learn English literature, I was always afraid to embarrass myself speaking text I wasn’t familiar at all with. In May of this year, as I was scrolling through Facebook, I noticed that Union House Theatre (UHT) was calling out for people to audition for their upcoming production in September – and it was a classic banger – Macbeth ! I immediately told myself that it was a sign and I just had to brace myself to audition for this one. I had to start somewhere.

Besides the fact that I love performing, I had many other reasons why I decided to sign up to audition almost right away:

  • I’ve never done a classical play before
  • It’s the 400th year since Shakespeare’s death
  • I’ve heard incredible things about Petra (our director) and have been dreaming to work with her since watching her last UHT production – Echo
  • I love performing (duh !)

and most importantly,

  • there was a special call out for people from all backgrounds and cultural heritage (hell yes) !!

“We want people of all backgrounds, cultural heritages, those who have performed Shakespeare, those who haven’t! WE WANT YOU. Don’t let the text scare you.”

Facebook, in my honest opinion, is the best way to promote your production. It is not a social media platform that only gives you the latest updates and trends, it includes push notifications and event pages that will send through reminders for us to keep track of things. Also, because it’s student theatre, the best way to reach out to students was through a platform that most youths use today (and being students, we have a lot of things on our minds so Facebook is great with helping us remember these important dates). While it was an important message to put out, UHT had done a great job with the use of social media to reach out.

It was comforting to see how UHT used Facebook to promote diversity and inclusivity by encouraging everyone to be in their production. I really appreciate it when performing arts companies, particularly student theatre, does that, because it just means that they don’t discriminate. Speaking for myself (and probably many others as well), people of colour are often too intimidated to audition for classical pieces due to the unfamiliarity with the text and casting options. I already felt reassured auditioning for this because I know I won’t be in a cast that was completely White, and they would cast me based on my work and not skin colour.

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Note: The casting for UHT’s Macbeth I felt was really great, aside from the very diverse cast. Particularly seen on the gallery with Macbeth and Lady Macbeth – the two leads were played by non-white actors, which is almost never seen on stage.

Image gallery picture credit: Bede Mckenna (Official photographer for UHT)

Attachment image source: UMSU | Macbeth by Willliam Shakespeare and Jean Tong

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