By Laurelle Walsh
Seattle Shakespeare Company brings its traveling production of Macbeth to The Merc Playhouse in Twisp for a one-night performance on Saturday (May 16) at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for youth 18 and under. A 20-percent discount is available when purchasing tickets for Macbeth along with tickets for Picnic, which will be presented by ARTS at Seattle U on May 22-23. Call the theater for more information at 997-7529 or go to www.mercplayhouse.org.
Seattle Shakespeare’s Macbeth has been on the road since March 1, playing at schools and community centers across Washington state. This pared-down adaptation, which runs 90 minutes with no intermission, is designed to fit within the school day; nevertheless every word is the original Shakespeare, according to Casey Brown, education associate and touring manager.
“It’s a stripped-down but action-packed production,” said Brown. “It’s all about the language and the story with not too many frills.” Quick changes and simplified sets keep the show flexible and dynamic. “The set pieces are designed to fit onto any stage, be it a theater, school gymnasium or auditorium,” Brown said.
The touring company is made up of three women and three men, requiring some actresses to play male roles; for example the actress who plays Lady Macduff also plays Ross, Brown said. Terri Weagant, who performed her one-woman show, The Amish Project at The Merc last year, plays the iconic Lady Macbeth.
In a fresh take on the classic tale of murder and dark ambition, director Annie Lareau set this production during World War I rather than in 11th-century Scotland. She chose the setting to commemorate 100 years since the start of the “war to end all wars,” Brown said. The costumes suggest early 20th century military uniforms and, while Shakespeare’s classic elements of the supernatural give the play a distinct look, “it could be anywhere in Europe at that time,” said Brown.
Seattle Shakespeare’s spring tours — a separate production of Romeo and Juliet is also on tour — are on the road from March through May. “It’s a challenging but rewarding experience,” said Brown, who was a member of the touring company in years past. “What’s remarkable about these six actors is they keep it fresh. Every time they perform the energy is like opening and closing night put together,” he said.
Saturday’s show at The Merc will be the last overnight show of the 2015 tour, after which the actors will return home to perform the play in Seattle-area schools for the last two weeks of May.
“It’s incredible to share Shakespeare with people all over the state. We have reached more than 10,000 students already on this tour,” Brown said. “Oftentimes Shakespeare is kind of put on a pedestal, but he was really writing for the masses. We believe that Shakespeare is for everybody.”