Murder, betrayal and evil will fill the University Theatre this week, as students mount their production of the William Shakespeare classic, “Macbeth.”
Shane Montgomery Schmidt stars as the titular character, with Kelsey Jackson playing his wife, Lady Macbeth. Lachlan MacQuarrie rounds out the leading trio as Macbeth’s rival, Macduff.
MacQuarrie said that “Macbeth” is just one of many Shakespearian plays to deal with the human condition, adding that there is evil in the world that can come from anybody.
“There’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on in the news nowadays that is absolutely horrifying,” MacQuarrie said. “People are totally shocked by it and they’re not expecting it, but that is something that is in human nature.”
Jackson said she notices that the evil changes people.
“What I’ve been experiencing with this show is how you can have one mindset and be so clueless of what it does to you,” Jackson said.
Schmidt agreed with his co-stars, arguing that Shakespeare’s work is still applicable to what people are going through in life today.
“In ‘Macbeth,’ for example, everyone wants more,” Schmidt said. “There’s so many people who still go through that.”
Jackson said that many Shakespeare plays can be taken to new places with the technological advances of the modern age, but that the themes in the shows are still relevant and resonant as is.
“His themes are still exciting in today’s world,” Jackson said. “Everything, movies and games and TV shows are all based off of what he kind of initially created.”
MacQuarrie said he also thinks Shakespeare’s work is still relevant, but had another possible argument for why it’s still popular today.
“It’s one of the first dramaturgical works to actually be published,” MacQuarrie said. “It’s extremely highly studied by academic communities.”
Schmidt said that his casting as the lead was a surprise, even though he has wanted to be in the show since it was announced last year.
“I never thought I was going to play Macbeth,” Schmidt said. “I’ve never done Shakespeare before. Getting cast as Macbeth was a dream and a nightmare.”
MacQuarrie said “Macbeth” has been his favorite Shakespeare play because it’s the first one he ever read.
“As soon as I heard we were doing it, I was like ‘Well I want to be anything in that,’” MacQuarrie said. “I would be a servant and not talk if I could just be in that show.”
For Schmidt, Jackson and MacQuarrie, the rehearsal process for this particular show was an amazing one.
“It’s honestly been one of the best ensembles, personally, I’ve ever worked with,” Jackson said. “Not just the cast, but everything, every element of the show is just coming together beautifully and cohesively.”
Schmidt said he was happy that the director, Joan Herrington, gave them so much rehearsal time.
“There’s a ton of us who have never done Shakespeare before,” Schmidt said. “She gave us all that time to really learn the language and let the language sit within us.”
MacQuarrie said that everybody involved is completely committed to the show.
“You get into rehearsal and everyone is there, ready to work,” MacQuarrie said. “It’s extremely professional and it’s a joy because occasionally, not necessarily in this department but with other things that I’ve worked with, you show up to rehearsal and you don’t get anything done because people aren’t ready to work.”
In the world of theatre, many people have a superstition to not say the name of “That Scottish Play” inside of a theatre.
“Joan established right from the beginning of our first reading: ‘We will say “Macbeth” and it won’t matter,’” Jackson said.
So far, at least, ignoring the superstition hasn’t resulted in any disastrous consequences.
“Nobody’s dead yet,” Schmidt said.
“Macbeth” can be seen at the D. Terry Williams Theatre in the Gilmore Theatre Complex on March 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m. and on March 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Gilmore Theatre Complex box office, online at www.wmich.edu/theatre/season/macbeth/ or by phone at 269-387-6222.