BWW Interview: Ali Tallman of MACBETH at &Sons Theatre
&Sons Theatre is Santa Fe's newest company, led by local actresses Ali Tallman and Mairi Chanel. Read on to hear a little bit from Ali about their mission, their thoughts on theatre, and their inaugural production: a reimagined, gender bent Macbeth.
Tell me about &Sons Theatre:
We met as two actresses performing in an immersive show about a zombie apocalypse, and later again performing together in a Shakespeare repertory season. After many post-show beers and discussions about the art we've made and the art we still want to create, we decided - why wait? We're young artists and we're broke, but the best way to do the work we want to is to create it ourselves. &Sons Theatre was born. We are a Santa Fe-based team of storytellers, movement artists, actors, writers, directors.
Do you have a mission statement? What's your objective as a theatre company?
We want to create work that engages with the reality of the human experience in an honest and recognizable way. We are looking to build an old-OLD-school troupe of artists - the kind who perform everything from the sacred to the silly. &Sons Theatre's mission is to create insightful, intentional, uncompromising, unconventional, give no fucks theatre. We're tired of being polite, and our work won't be. We are drawn to both classical and modern work, and our first several productions will be reinterpretations of classic texts through a modern and feminist lens. We want to challenge audiences with unfamiliar theatre that includes them and invites them to be part of the conversation.
Why did you choose Macbeth for your inaugural production?
The play is extremely fitting for &Sons' first production - it's all about exploring the nature of humanity, the struggle we all experience in deciding where we draw the line and how far we'll equivocate, and how we decide who we are to each other. Characters that start out as respected, honorable people do horrible, evil things to get what they want. In an age of increasing divisiveness and a growing "Othering" of everyone outside of our circles, these are extremely prevalent questions to ask ourselves.
What sets this Macbeth apart?
This is not your grandmother's Macbeth. It is contemporary, it is fluid, and it is raw. We are using a variety of movement techniques as a different way to communicate with the audience. Most of what we've worked with is based on the work of incredible companies in London, including Frantic Assembly, RashDash, and The National Theatre. The body is the center of the work we're doing - what is happening in the limbs, as well as in the head and heart. The sound, the breath, the pleasure, the pain, the emotion, the effort. In this show particularly, these characters feel so extremely - they cut their hearts out and show them to us.
How did you go about casting this production?
When we held open auditions for this production, we made it clear that all roles were open to any actor of any gender. And we did end up with some cross-gender castings. The most prominent being the two leads - Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. By switching the genders of the actors playing these roles, we believe it will allow the audience greater access to these characters and their story. We also hope to challenge any gender bias the audience may have. This casting allowed us to explore the characters' motivations and methods of approaching their goals from very different, nuanced perspectives. In particular, Alex Reid has been doing a tremendous amount of work to make Lady Macbeth a more fully realized human, rather than the two-dimensional villain she is often portrayed as. And Mairi has deftly captured the juxtaposition of Macbeth's vulnerability and toxic masculinity, and how the clashing of the two twist and change him. The relationship they've built, and the destruction of it, have really become the centerpiece of the show, rather than either of their individual struggles.
Macbeth opens February 21 and runs through March 8 at The Swan Theatre (1213 Parkway Dr in Santa Fe). Tickets are available at the door and on Brown Paper Tickets.