Wednesday, November 22, 2017
“Macbeth” to be Performed at Austin Arts Center

“Macbeth” to be Performed at Austin Arts Center

TRIP SLAYMAKER ’18
A&E EDITORMacbeth poster002)Macbeth poster002)

COURTESY OF trincoll.edu Painting by Diana Rose Smith ’19

Approaching one of Shakespeare’s most beloved and most-performed plays is a daunting task for any
director. Any performance draws from earlier iterations of the classic story, buta slight twist of premise also helps an adaptation stand out. Such is the case with the upcoming fall play Macbeth. The Tripod spoke with the play’s director,
Nina Pinchin, to learn more.
Pinchin is the Associate Director of Education at Hartford Stage. She started her career in
theater in New York, but has been directing and living in this community for ten years. Pinchin is also known for her role as the Director of “Breakdancing Shakespeare,” a paid apprenticeship for teenagers that features six weeks of paid production time for a piece of Shakespeare that features breakdancing and hip-hop.
Pinchin first encountered Shakespeare’s eerie Scottish play at age when her father played Malcolm in a local production. Though the comedic Porter character is all that she can recall from the performance, her father was known to quote his character’s lines long after.
The version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth that will appear on stae at Austin Arts Center will be pleasing to Shakespeare experts and purists who might be in attendance, while still presenting a specialized and fundamentally different take on the classic. Pinchin says that the play will “come from the angle of group storytelling, imagining the premise that all the actors are part of three groups of witches.” This choice will lend a sense of ritualism in the retelling of the Macbeth story. It also draws from Pinchin’s belief that there is an inherent investment in witchcraft as a countercultural institution in the text and dramaturgy of the play. The challenges of dealing with a cast of eleven and a large group of characters were also at the root of the decision.
When Macbeth was first performed at the Globe Theater around 1606, it was laced with subject matter meant to fascinate and flatter the new regent, King James I of England and Scotland. James was enthralled and terrified by witches, having published several obscure and dense pamphlets about them. He would have been utterly transported by the rhyme-loving Weird Sisters, the engines of prophecy that provide Macbeth with his first push toward ambition. The play also depicts the heroic and tragic character Banquo as the ancestor who “shall beget kings hereafter,” eventually including James I of England. It is appropriate that the Witches should be chosen as the theatrical storytellers of the play, as their influence can be felt in nearly every scene.
Pinchin intends this version to hold insight on the ways characters connect with the natural world. She identifies many moments in Macbeth where nature itself, and its resistance to manipulation, plays a key part. “We’re in a moment in time when not to acknowledge man’s effect on our natural world is to be blind.”
When asked about why Macbeth has endured so thoroughly through the centuries, Pinchin cited the “recipe for a tyrant” that the play contains. “We see it throughout history: people behave in ways that are ominous and harmful, and they keep rising to the top.” The second reason for the persistence of the Scottish play is that “Of all Shakespeare’s plays Macbeth is the most unproblematic…The story arc is very clean.”
The cast has been working long hours to perfect their characters, representing a diverse group of students from all levels of the College. The task of preparing for their performance is also physically grueling at times, as several cast members have needed to spend time with a fight choreographer, training with the wooden staves that will be used in the show. “They’re fabulous,” says Pinchin. “Everybody is bringing so much to the table.” Cooper Jennings ’18 will play Macbeth.
The play will feature original music and sound design that features choral singing. As it will stand in for both the domain of witches and Glamis castle, the set of Macbeth will be gloomy and decked-out with the appearance of grey stone, with a large tree in center-stage. William Shakespeare’s Macbeth will be presented by the Trinity College Department of Theater and Dance and performed Thursday – Saturday, Nov. 16-18, 7:30 p.m. at Garmany Hall, in the Austin Arts Center.

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