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Theatre South Carolina Unleashes Wicked Tale of Macbeth April 14-22

Apr 13, 2012

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COLUMBIA, SC - April 14-22, 2012 - “Something wicked this way comes” to Columbia’s Drayton Hall Theatre, as Theatre South Carolina presents its final main stage production of the season, Shakespeare’s harrowing classic, “Macbeth,” April 14-22, 2012.

Performance times are: Saturday, April 14 at 7pm; Sunday April 15 at 3pm; Wednesday through Friday, April 18-20 at 8pm; Saturday April 21 at 7pm; and, Sunday, April 22 at 3pm.  There is an additional half-price late night performance Saturday, April 21 at 11pm.  Drayton Hall Theatre is located at 1214 College St.  
 
Tickets for the production are available by calling 803-777-2551, or by visiting the box office on the first floor of Longstreet Theatre. The box office is open 12:30pm – 5:30pm beginning Friday, April 6. Ticket prices are $16 for the general public, $14 for university faculty/staff, military and seniors 60+ and $10 for students with valid identification.  The Longstreet box office is located at 1300 Greene St.
 
The shortest and most gruesome of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Macbeth traces the fateful undoing of the ambitious Scottish general, Macbeth.  After receiving a prophecy from three strange sisters that he will ascend to the throne of Scotland, and spurred to action by the desires of his scheming wife, Macbeth is led down a seductive path that compels him to murder in order to gain the throne.  Once secured, however, the new royals’ reign is consumed by paranoia and guilt, resulting in a bloodthirsty campaign that leads to their ultimate demise.
 
Director Robert Richmond, known for his unique takes on Shakespeare’s works, has written an adaptation that streamlines the plot while focusing intently on Macbeth’s exploration of the dark side of human ambition.  Inspired in part by the television series Game of Thrones, Richmond has imagined a world based in reality (Scotland, 850 BC) that also makes a believable setting for the play’s supernatural elements.
 
 “The first thing that I said to the design team was that I felt like it had to take place in an ancient forest, and I mean an ancient forest,” Richmond explains.   “A forest that encompasses day and night, good and evil.”
 
The woodland setting extends to the look of the characters, as well.  “They wear their environment.  They are the environment,” he says.  “The weird sisters, too, are their environment.  They should be able to stand and be and you don't know whether they are there or not.”
 
The character of Hecate, the witch conjured by the weird sisters, is transformed in Richmond’s version of the play into a creature he describes as “half-woman, half-lizard,” who is an embodiment of the forest’s sinister spirit.
 
“She can smell and sense people who are close to the dark forces,” he says. “She represents the sense of what the animal instinct is, and as Macbeth begins feeling the dark force, this creature gets closer and closer to him.  Even he becomes more reptilian as the play goes on, as his mind poisons and his body hardens.  There's a physical decay from this human hero to this strange mass murderer.   He becomes something of the trees.”
 
Another notable addition to the play is Richmond’s novel use of the character Fleance, a young boy who escapes the murderous Macbeth, as a framing device for the play.
 
“I think obviously the bad side of the play, the dark forces of the play, are very prominent,” he says.  “But, by contrast, I don't think that the play truly represents the better sides of human nature.   So I took the idea that Fleance somehow escapes the violence at the very beginning of the play, and climbs a tree, where he watches the story unfold.  There's a sense of a young boy or cherubim commenting on, and possibly in our production singing about, what ensues below him.”
 
Two accomplished professional guest artists, Casey Kaleba (Fight Director) and Nathan Bennett (playing the role of Duncan) have been brought in to work with our students as they bring the complex production to life.   A teaching artist for DC’s Shakespeare Theatre Company, Kaleba has been putting the cast through their paces for the battle-heavy production.   Kaleba recently worked with Robert when he directed Shakespeare’s Othello at the Folger Theatre in Washington, DC.  An actor living in NYC, Bennett graduated in 2009 from the MFA in Acting program at the University of SC.  Bennett joins a talented cast of 16 graduate and undergraduate theatre students.
 
The fantastical world of the play is being realized by a team of skilled designers, including MFA design students Heather Abraham (Scenic Design), Caitlyn Moraska (Costume Design) and Brad Cozby (Lighting Design), and undergraduate theatre major Adam Bintz (Sound Design).
 
It all adds up to a production which Richmond describes as “psychologically disturbing,” but one in which audiences can recognize the very common human weakness at the heart of the horror.
 
“I think the audience should leave feeling like they understand perhaps why Macbeth resorts to the actions he takes,” Richmond says.  “He's the brightest, the best, he's promoted, respected -- what more do you need?  But that ambition drives him to want the top job, and do the horrible things he does to get it.    I think we still understand that in this day and age -- what the consequences are to the actions that we take.”
 
For more information about Macbeth, the productions of Theatre South Carolina or the theatre program at the University of SC, please contact Kevin Bush by phone at (803) 777-9353 or by email at bushk@mailbox.sc.edu.