YORK director Kit Monkman's green-screen film version of Macbeth will be shown at City Screen, York, on Tuesday.

Billed as a"unique reimagining of Macbeth for one night in cinemas", Monkman's reinvention of Shakespeare's tragedy can be seen that night at more than 80 multiplexes and independent cinemas nationwide, distributed by CinEvents.

Here in York, City Screen's special 6pm screening will be preceded by 15 minutes of footage documenting The Making Of Macbeth: The Film, with an exclusive Macbeth keepsake for every attendee; Professor Judith Buchanan, Monkman's all-important text advisor from the University of York, will give an introduction, and Monkman will be staying on for the after-show party in The Basement.

The making of the film was a wholly North Yorkshire enterprise, filmed by GSP Productions at their studios in Bubwith, near Selby, against effectively a blank [green screen] canvas in 2015 before the technical team went to their digital work in Heslington, adding all the details that mark out Macbeth from more conventional forms of film-making. Just as they did on Monkman's first film, 2014's The Knife That Killed Me, made with York company Pilot Theatre's then-director Marcus Romer.

Through juxtaposing "real" and "digital" worlds, Monkman's Macbeth bridges the gap between theatre and film to invent a radical new type of imaginative space, in a nutshell amplifying the theatrical context of the original while creating"innovative and thrilling cinematic vistas" with fluid camera movement, but crucially maintaining the language and themes of Shakespeare’s play.

York Press:

York film-maker Kit Monkman

"Macbeth is a play that’s fascinated by 'interiority' and imagination and Shakespeare’s storytelling is far from naturalistic, so this seemed like an ideal opportunity to explore a more abstract theatrical approach to the screen," says Kit.

To do so, he used background matte painting and computer modelling to generate the world in which the action plays out, the green screen allowing the director to create his vision of a multi-tiered globe in which the characters play out their various fates as the camera drifts and zooms in. The effect is very different from watching one of those NT Live National Theatre plays at a cinema.

The technical green-screen wizardry was completed in May 2017; preview and festival screenings have followed, from the United States to Gdansk to London, and now Monkman's vision can be enjoyed by a wider audience.

"The premise of everything we're doing with green-screen filming is that you should have a relationship with the screen like you do when you're reading a book; you summon this world into being from your imagination, and theatre does that too, encouraging you to lean forward and invest in the creative space," says Kit.

"Yet film had decided that was not its job; however bizarre the environment, film will fill in the space, but my intention was to use a new technology that would engage with earlier film-making sensibilities, where you have to invest in the process of telling the story first and foremost."

Monkman learnt from the experience of making The Knife That Killed Me, where the brilliant visuals sometimes swamped the dialogue. "That film was an opportunity where I wanted to invest in this film format and [theatre-maker] Marcus Romer wanted to make a film. It meant I could explore the technology – and it was great fun. Given its genesis, it was pretty successful, even though it was pretty uneven, but I definitely thought there was further mileage in it."

York Press:

Filming Macbeth in green screen at Bubwith

Whereas The Knife That Killed Me was "an experimental film made for an audience that wasn't really into experimental film", Macbeth offered a different prospect. "I wanted to make it for an audience that would welcome experimentation film-making as Shakespeare is reinvented for each generation," says Kit.

"Michael Fassbender's [very Scottish] Macbeth [directed by Justin Kurzel in 2015], is absolutely the antithesis of our film; it's saying 'this really happened'; our Macbeth is all about the interior world.

"I first saw Macbeth at York Theatre Royal around 1976/77/78; it was austere, very minimal, and though 80 per cent of it went over my head, I do remember being moved by its incredible inner darkness and the little bits of poetry that were able to penetrate my teenage brain. That always stayed with me."

Fascinatingly, Monkman remembers feeling sorry for Macbeth, not exactly a conventional response. "'Am I right to feel that way for a murderer,' I thought. So I've tried in this film to make Macbeth and Lady Macbeth human again, particularly Lady Macbeth, as she's always dismissed as this evil harridan.

"My starting point was if Macbeth was an everyday despot or tyrant, there would be no story, but he's capable of great poetic thought. He's a deeply human man who does deeply inhuman things."

Kit Monkman's Macbeth (15) will be shown at City Screen, York, Tuesday, 6pm. Tickets can be booked on 0871 902 5726 or at picturehouses.com/cinema/York_Picturehouse