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Hit & Run Shakespeare: MACBETH

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Kim Wong
August 18, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Artistic Director (and referee!).

What is your show about?
The tenth in our Hit and Run Shakespeare series, this one-night-only production of Macbeth throws a bunch of actors onstage with NO rehearsal and NO director... just a referee who blows a whistle every time an actor screws up, and a board to tally up the foul points!

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Shakespeare! His work is so universal and so human. His stories, while epic, are full of nuanced and deeply understood emotions that we all relate to. His language is not only beautiful poetically but also layered and deep -- he understands the way we think and talk. I love that I can work on the same piece of Shakespeare over and over and continue to find new nuances and deeper meanings in the text. My goal is to show the world that Shakespeare is not stuffy or academic or old. Rather, his work is extremely immediate, playful, bawdy, funny, and powerful. I want to make Shakespeare accessible, modern, and relatable. Most of all, I want people to realize that Shakespeare is FUN!

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
The amazing thing about working in theatre is that absolutely anything can happen on stage. Sometimes, it is the mistakes and accidents, those little unplanned moments, that can produce the most hilarious or most touching moments. In good theatre, an actor is allowed to really play, follow impulses, and discover new things. And what's really exciting is that the audience is invited to play and discover alongside them, so that the act of participating in theatre is active and engaging. Tim Carroll tells this wonderful story about an outdoor production of Macbeth in which a pigeon flew onto the stage in the middle of Macbeth's big "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" speech. All eyes in the audience immediately went to the animal on stage. And the actor playing Macbeth stops and looks at the pigeon, and says "Life's but a walking shadow." He waits a moment, and the pigeon begins to walk around the stage, and he says, "A poor player / That struts and frets his hour upon the stage." And the pigeon flies away and he says, "And then is heard no more." The entire audience watched this with baited breath. It was one of those magical moments that can only happen in live theatre. And it is this kind of play and immediacy that we strive to create in our Hit & Run series.

Are there any cautions or warnings you’d like to make about the show (e.g., not appropriate for little kids)?
Because there is no rehearsal, it would be very unsafe to have any violence or stage combat in our Hit & Runs. So instead, we always come up with a fun violence convention. In this production of Macbeth, all of the violence will be done with WATER: water guns, water balloons, buckets of water... So please come prepared to get WET!

Which character from a Shakespeare play would like your show the best: King Lear, Puck, Rosalind, or Lady Macbeth -- and why?
This one is a toss up. Of course Lady Macbeth would like this, A) because it's Macbeth, but also B) because I have a feeling Lady M would take great pleasure in watching us torture the actors. In fact, she'd probably be the first to throw a water balloon or boo really loudly when an actor forgot his line. However, in the spirit of Hit & Run, I think I'd have to say Puck, because what we do in these shows is completely in the spirit of spontaneity and play. We throw a bunch of actors and props together, and wait to see what kind of magic and mischief will be made.

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
As an Asian American actress and Artistic Director, diversity is extremely important to me. Not only ethnic diversity, but gender diversity as well. Accidental Shakespeare Company is unique in that it is run by four women. We as a company strive to cast as ethnically diverse as we can. We also seek to provide as many opportunities for women as we can. The wonderful thing about Shakespeare is that the stories are so universal that you can do this with great ease -- women can play men, men can play women, and ethnicity is not an issue. Rather, these things often bring a new and interesting take on these well known roles.