|Macbeth||Robert J. DeLuca|
|Lady Macbeth||Melanie Uhlir|
|Lady Macduff||Kelly Andronicos|
|Young Macduff||Alec Simmons|
|First Murderer||Evan Lambrou|
|Second Murderer||Jeffrey Weimer|
|Young Siward||Graham Drake-Maurer|
|Waiting Gentlewoman||Erin Wagner|
|Set and Stage Design||J.G. Hertzler|
|Fight Choreographer||Collin Cary|
|Stage Manager||Kristin Loughry|
|Assistant Costume Designer||Sara Rodbourne|
|Assistant Stage Manager||Betsy Cowdery|
|Assistant Fight Choreographer||Nadia Pierrehumbert|
Macbeth is one of the great tragic roles in all of theatre. So what does an actor think about when taking it on? The role of Macbeth in our production will be played by ISC veteran Robert DeLuca, who answered a few questions about the process and the role.
How do you prepare for a part like Macbeth?
Muhammad Ali said, "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." Preparation is key for any role, but for a role like this you have to be physically, vocally, textually, and emotionally ready to go the distance. Researching the world and yourself for real life examples of the core issues of a role to ground them in psychological truth for yourself is critical. At the same time one has to be cognizant of what contemporary lenses, psychological or otherwise, you may be looking through. Knowing where you are coming from is pretty important.
Although I concur that right before you do a role, it is not a great idea to watch another performance of it, over past 8 years I have made it my business to travel to see other productions and some great contemporary actors do this role. Then you have to forget all that, and use what makes sense for you, your choices and the director's vision. I am pretty practical this way. I feel that the best preparation is entering the world of the play and doing it. After all preparations, I like what James Cagney said about the next part of the process: "Look the other guy in the eye and tell the truth."
What do you want the audience to understand about Macbeth?
The core of this is that a man (or woman) who is heroic in one context can, with the right set of circumstances, do terrible things if he follows his unbridled ambition rather than what he knows is right. This fall and error is what makes this play a tragedy, in the classical sense.
A principal content challenge is to convey that Mac is not a sociopath, nor does he feel narcissistically entitled to the kingship. He never says one word about why he wants this, or that he believes he would be any better at it than Duncan (quite the opposite really), or how this would benefit him or that it is owed to him. He ponders deeply the choice to kill the king and decides against it, at least for a little while. He has a conscience and is then tormented by his actions. For me, the actor's challenge is to have the audience feel something for that struggle even as they abhor his actions. Also, for the audience to recognize in themselves, or those around them, the potential for poor choices and how they come about.
You were last seen as Bottom in the ISC's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Which is harder, playing a comic character like Bottom or a dramatic one like Macbeth?
Well, the old saying is that dying is easy, comedy is hard...but a role like this is challenging on so many levels. In comedy, there is an immediate relationship, and feedback system, with the audience. They laugh (in all its forms and levels) or they don't. In that sense it is unforgiving or greatly rewarding. It is technical in a very specific way. Timing is critical in a very precise way. Wait two seconds before you do a take to the audience, they laugh, wait one and they don't. You work those moments and then the audience teaches you what really does work.
With a tragic role, you must go on subtler feelings and cues and trust the playwright, his poetry, the many choices made and the character's journey. You "feel" the audience with you or not, almost by the quality of the silences. In heightened language like Shakespeare's you are faced with the task of making the larger than life language and characters believable and truthful for the situation and gauge how far to take it before it becomes the wrong kind of melodrama.
Lady Macbeth is one of the most coveted female dramatic roles in all of theatre. So how does an actor approach a part like this? In our production, the role will be played by ISC veteran Melanie Uhlir, who answered a few questions about the process and the role.
How do you prepare for a part like Lady Macbeth?
Practice, practice, practice. And I study the notes in one of those heavily annotated editions to make sure I understand exactly what I and the other characters are talking about. After all this time, I have a pretty good handle on Elizabethan lingo, but it's always worthwhile to study the notes no matter how long a person has been working with Shakespeare. After that, I just try to get inside the character's head and figure out what might motivate him or her (I get cross-cast sometimes). I think I sometimes inadvertently take on some of the personality traits of the character I'm working on. I don't plan on inciting anyone to murder though!
What do you want the audience to understand about Lady Macbeth?
I would love it if at least some people in the audience would come away thinking the play is tragic for her character too. That she's not simply evil or a one-dimensional monster. I want to make sure she comes across as human. It's somewhat daunting but also an exciting challenge. I feel fortunate to get to play her.
You were last seen as Puck in the ISC's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Which is harder, playing a comic character like Puck or a dramatic one like Lady Macbeth?
Comic roles come more easily to me psychologically, though I work every bit as hard on them. I really love comedy and I don't like to take myself very seriously, so I usually feel more at ease with a comic role. Plus, Puck is a hobgoblin and Lady M is a woman. And I find it much easier to play a hobgoblin than to play a woman.
* actors shown with an asterisk after their name appear courtesy of the Actor's Equity Association.
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