Harvard College Library

Hilles Hosts Macbeth

May 1, 2002 --Harvard students ventured out to Hilles Library this past weekend to read, study, and perform Shakespeare! In an unprecedented use of the Hilles courtyard, the Hyperion Shakespeare Company staged Macbeth. "When Hilles was built, the original vision was that it would serve as an all purpose center for students, fulfilling intellectual and social needs. We feel the use of the courtyard for this production engages this vision," said Suzanne Kemple, associate librarian and head of reference, Hilles.

Director Dan Cozzens (center) speaks with Tom Price, playing Macbeth, and Scottie Thompson, playing a witch, at a rehearsal in the Hilles courtyard.
Hilles administrators were willing to entertain the idea of hosting the production on the condition that library services would not be interrupted or users disturbed. In a meeting last fall with Macbeth director Dan Cozzens, '03, Kemple and Heather Cole, librarian of Hilles and Lamont libraries, collaborated to create guidelines to guarantee library activities could continue as normal during rehearsals and performances. Show dates were chosen in coordination with the library's least busy times, signage was posted to inform library users, and surrounding neighbors, that the play would be taking place, and the courtyard, lighting, and sound equipment were evaluated to make certain they were safe for cast, crew, and audience.

As the show opened last weekend, library users filled study rooms, asked reference questions, and seemed unaffected by the pacing actors, who used the lobby of the library as backstage. The show went smoothly, drawing over 150 people to the two performances.

"I enjoyed seeing the library in a new light, with costumed actors walking around wearing fake daggers. Yet, it was also interesting to see how the actors interacted with the library. One of the actors was reading a textbook as she was waiting to go onstage, at least three people used our workstations to check e-mail, and after the play some of the performers brought their parents into the library to show them around," said Kemple.

"We realize we are Hilles' guests and our efforts from the beginning have been to make the production mutually beneficial. The library staff has been tremendously enthusiastic and supportive throughout the entire process," said Cozzens, a biology and anthropology concentrator.

Additional performances will be held May 2 - 4 at 7:30 pm. The play is free and open to the public; tickets are available from the Harvard Box Office in Holyoke Center. Audience members are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets.

This story appears courtesy of the Harvard College Library Communications Office
Copyright © 2004 President and Fellows of Harvard College