At ACT, Albany Options students learn about Macbeth and more

It isn’t easy to rehearse a scene for a play you’re studying when you can’t say the name of the main character.

Albany Options School juniors and seniors found that out Wednesday on a field trip to Albany Civic Theater, where they were invited to step onstage to act out some of the more dramatic scenes they’ve been reading about in English class.

The play: Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” But because the play is said to be cursed, longstanding theater tradition holds that actors and actresses do not use its name outside of an actual performance. Instead, it’s called, “The Scottish Play.”

AOS teacher Robert Blackman was the first to slip up in calling students to the stage to act out the scene in which the main character kills the king, Duncan. But he gamely went through most of the motions of reversing the bad karma by spinning around three times, spitting and uttering a curse (“Aw, phooey!”).

Then it was on with the show: “Murderers over here, and people willing to die over here,” he called, organizing Duncans, Macbeths and Banquos for various untimely ends.

Diane Allen, director of Disney’s “High School Musical,” which opens May 18 at ACT, led Wednesday’s tour with assistant director Mirinda Keeling, who codirects, with Allen, ACT’s YouThespian program.

Stagestruck students have opportunities for the limelight through Albany Civic Theater, but lots of jobs also await those with no desire to tread the boards, they told the group. People skilled with lights, sound, set-building, costume design, makeup, props and more all have to come together to pull off a show.

“Theater is a lot of fun,” Keeling said. “There are opportunities for all sorts of people to do all sorts of things. It takes just about as many people behind the scenes as on stage to make it work.”

The two also taught the group the basics of stage direction, explained theater terms such as “house manager” and “green room,” and showed them the makeup and dressing rooms.

Next came a chance to help with their upcoming show. Students cut out paper pawprints and made locker decorations for the set, then created mock math, English and science papers for use as props.

Abby Wilson said she’d like to learn more, especially about makeup. The 16-year-old is a self-taught effects designer who came to the tour with bloody “gashes” on her nose and arm and a “bruise” on one cheek to show her work.

Daniel Naylor, 18, who’s completed his AOS graduation requirements and is now taking classes at Linn-Benton Community College, is receiving a more personal lesson: He has the role of Chad in “Musical.”

The audition was intimidating, he said, “But once I got on stage I wasn’t nervous anymore.” His advice to classmates considering the same opportunity: “Don’t be afraid.”