Guest post by Jessica Lander
The large dented cauldrons of spicy green curry, red curry and duck soup were cloaked in hovering fog and steamy air of the monsoon season. It was evening at the Gate Market in the heart of the old city of Chiang Mai, in Northern Thailand. As I slurped a bowl of noodles so spicy it induced tears, all I could think about was Macbeth.
Three days fresh from college graduation, I had boarded a plane bound for a one-year teaching fellowship at the prestigious Chiang Mai University. Growing up, my favorite musical was Rodger’s and Hammerstein’s The King and I, the story of Anna, hired by the King of Thailand to tutor the royal children. I was forever singing the lyrics to Getting to Know You, beginning with Anna’s declaration that “When you become a teacher, by your students you’ll be taught.” Now, heading to classes as a young teacher, I could not help but think of Anna.
By day I guided a hundred and fifty university students in my elementary-level English classes through the intricacies of usage between “say” and “tell”. But, I wanted something more: I wanted to teach theater. So, I approached my colleagues in the English Department with an ambitious plan. The students in the university’s English Club staged an annual play in English – Cinderella last year. Hesitantly, I proposed to direct Macbeth – my favorite Shakespeare ever since I played the First Witch and Macduff’s doomed son in a 7th grade production. The department was dubious – the language would be too difficult. I persisted. Auditions were set.
But our real challenge was not the play’s language, but its content. In one of the last countries with a revered king, I was preparing to stage a regicide. (more…)