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Hilary Dennis' MACBETH to be Presented at The Workroom

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The primarily classically trained "Macbeth" cast will devise their entire production the week before performance.

Hilary Dennis' MACBETH to be Presented at The Workroom

Hilary Dennis' devised-in-a-week production of Shakespeare's Macbeth runs October 30, at 7 p.m. and October 31, at 4 p.m. at The Workroom in Northampton, MA. Admission is free.

At first glance, Shakespeare's Macbeth - in which three witches prophesize that an ambitious military captain will become King of Scotland - reads like a morality tale of the bloody consequences of instant gratification.

But for Hilary Dennis, producer and cast member of the upcoming devised production running in Northampton over Halloween weekend, the play offers both an accessible point into Shakespeare, and a compelling look at the decisions people make to get or keep power.

Especially as the latter became explicitly clear within the theatre industry during the pandemic.

"2020 taught our industry that there are a few people at the top doing a lot of the shot-calling... Dictating what plays make up a season, who can own or be an artistic director of a theatre, who can direct, who is allowed to speak up, and who isn't," Dennis said.

This type of gatekeeping is exactly what Dennis intends to do away with by highlighting the collaborative nature of theatre without dictating how a "Shakespeare" cast should look or sound.

Using the "Shakespeare In A Week" format, in which actors primarily rely on the text and their own storytelling power, the internationally-based, primarily classically trained "Macbeth" cast will devise their entire production the week before performance. The cast features Equity actor and Columbia MFA student, Vaughn Pole, in the title role, Shakespeare & Company's Kristen Moriarty and Joseph Cardozo, Jelena Djukic, Jane MacLaughlin, Justin Viz, and Mary Potts Dennis.

Much like in Shakespeare's time, there will be no director. This is an active choice, says Dennis, who co-founded Elsewhere Shakespeare in Richmond, VA, which operates with a similar ethos.

Additionally, the production isn't interested in drawing a line between performers and audience. Instead, the cast intends to consider the audience as the 9th member of the ensemble, crafting an experience that makes everyone feel complicit in Macbeth's unraveling.

Ultimately, Dennis hopes that audiences take away something new - a familiar line delivered unconventionally, a deeper understanding of Shakespeare, or maybe even just a spooky feeling from watching Macbeth performed on Halloween.

Macbeth will run October 30 (7p-8:30p) and October 31 (4p-5:30p) at The Workroom, located at 33 Hawley St, Northampton, MA. Admission is free, though reservation is required through Eventbrite. Audience members must be vaccinated against Covid-19. https://macbethattheworkroom.eventbrite.com


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