Nightpath Theatre's rough take on 'Macbeth'

With their spare settings and universal stories, Shakespeare's plays lend themselves to tinkering. The creators at Nightpath Theatre Company have taken Macbeth, a bloody tale of revenge and betrayal, and moved it to a potentially bloodthirsty setting: the theatrical rehearsal room.

"I have seen over a dozen Macbeths over the years and they always seemed too slick. I wanted something rawer, less produced, more like a garage band version of Macbeth," says Maggie Scanlan, who directs Macbeth... Rehearsing and plays a duel role in the show--that of the onstage director and of Lady Macbeth.

To craft that "garage band" style, the idea of presenting The Scottish Play as a work-in-rehearsal was developed. This would allow for the rough edges of the piece, and to underscore many of the themes of the play, which features allusions to performing and explores the idea of masking true intentions.

The idea, Scanlan admits, was a shot in the dark but "the more we did this project, the more we realized how the play lends itself to this concept."

"Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are transgressors both within the paradigm of the play and outside of it. She, as the director who is expected to stay outside the action and guide, inserts herself as Lady Macbeth. The journey of the play follows the disastrous effects of actions that disturb the natural order, and the way the natural order reasserts itself," Scanlan says.

The actors play multiple roles; not just the ones that are proscribed by Shakespeare's text, but also as the "actors" in the rehearsal room.

Joining Scanlan are a number of local veterans and newcomers, including Michael Ooms (as the name suggests, the son of Richard Ooms and Claudia Wilkins), Sheila Regan, Andy Olthoff, Kristin Foster, father and daughter Bob and Caitlin Hammel, Nick Shuster, Stuart Wiberg, Christopher Kehoe, and Peter Middlecamp. Middlecamp also designed the production's live soundscape.

The rough edges don't just come from the concept. Schedules, including opening the week after New Year's, make for dour holiday gatherings. "Macbeth's story of a lonely, rough country in the midst of treasonous unrest and strife filled with violence and 'dark desires' is not what you want to be thinking about at that time of the year," Scanlan says.

Macbeth...Rehearsing opens this Thursday at the Red Eye Theatre.

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