Guy Oliver-Watts to Lead Aquila Theatre's MACBETH

By: Mar. 20, 2012
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Aquila Theatre (Peter Meineck, Artistic Director) today announced the complete cast for the New York Premiere of their production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, designed and directed by Desiree Sanchez: Rachael Barrington (Lady Macduff / Rosse / Servant), James Hogg (Banquo / Captain / Porter / Messenger / Murderer 2 / Doctor), James Lavender (Macduff / Duncan / Murderer 1), Guy Oliver-Watts (Macbeth), and Rebecca Reaney (Lady Macbeth / Boy). Additional casting will be announced shortly.

Performances will begin April 18th, with opening night scheduled for Wednesday, April 25th. This limited engagement continues through May 6th only. Performances will be Wednesday, Thursdays and Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm, Friday evenings at 8pm, and Sunday matinees at 2pm. All performances will be at the Gym at Judson (243 Thompson Street at Washington Square South). For tickets, visit or call 212/868-4444. For more information, visit

Aquila's Macbeth is a tension-filled, sexually charged, and visceral production that places Shakespeare's language at its core. Performed by a cast of American and British actors with extensive credits with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal National Theatre, West End, major regional, London and New York theatre, this superb cast brings Shakespeare's intoxicating language to vivid life. Macbeth marks Aquila's 21st season of Shakespeare and the company's excellence in ensemble work and verse speaking led The New Yorker to write "Aquila's production is beautifully spoken, dramatically revealing and crystalline in effect" and The New York Times to describe Aquila as "an extraordinary inventive and disciplined outfit."  By returning the Bard to the ensemble and focusing on the emotional intensity, sexual energy, and intricate relationships in Macbeth, this compelling production dares to simply trust in the power of this magnificent play.

The acting ensemble for Aquila's Macbeth is distinguished by the fact that they have been living and working together on this production for nearly a year. Moreover the cast includes several members who have worked with Aquila before, creating continuity with the 21-year history of the company. The Macbeth ensemble rehearsed in Nafplion, Greece and have since performed together in more than fifty venues, ranging from 200 to 2000 seats, for diverse audiences across the country. This has given the Aquila company the opportunity to explore Macbeth deeply while becoming an uniquely strong ensemble – a rarity in today's theatre world, but almost identical to the way in which Shakespeare's actors worked.

Desiree Sanchez brings a fresh approach to Shakespeare, with a strikingly sensual visual sensibility and rigorous attention to intricate details honed in a distinguished career as both a classical (Boston Ballet, The Metropolitan Opera) and modern (Complexions, Bill T Jones, Neo Labos, Shawn Curren, Doug Varone and Donald Bryd) dancer. Hailing from a Nuyorican family and growing up in Connecticut gave her a distinct perspective on the role of the arts in America and the importance of classical works to diverse cultural groups. She believes in Shakespeare's power to transcend cultural boundaries and to bring people together to experience art as an important part of their lives – that performing Macbeth is a truly democratic and communal undertaking.

Ms. Sanchez's production of Macbeth focuses on the intense relationships between the protagonists and the external forces that drive them to step beyond moral and societal bounds. She explains "I've distilled this production of Macbeth to its essence. I wanted it to be about the people, their lives, and what drives them to do what they do. There are no stars here – each ensemble member, just like each role, is an essential part of a unified whole. Sensitivity to each other's physical energy and sense of time reveals so much about each character and how they feel about each other in ways words can't do alone. Theatre cannot compel unless words work in harmony with action. Theatre means 'seeing place' and cognitive studies have demonstrated how the mind favors the visual over the auditory. The body doesn't lie. I want them to vibe off each other like dancers vibe off each in a modern dance piece, or a pas de deux. I want them to need each other. The ensemble is everything for us at Aquila. This creates an energy on stage that is electric – that pulls a viewer in and makes them feel they are witnessing something real. Gelsey Kirkland (famed ballerina with New York City Ballet and Baryshnikov) once told me to pay attention to my glissade. I didn't understand at first, as it was a simple connection step to my big grand jeté – a simple prep step to the one I thought everyone was waiting to see. She said, if you throw away the connection step you diminish the grand jeté. The audience sees both. I try to pass that kind of truth to my actors. I tell them they must be aware of the moments between. Watching how an actor receives info, even if she is on the periphery of a scene, can be just as interesting as when she responds."

Aquila Artistic Director Peter Meineck adds, "One of the focuses of Aquila's Macbeth is combat trauma. Director Desiree Sanchez has worked with Guy Oliver-Watts (Macbeth) on how his character has experienced combat trauma, and with Rebecca Reaney (Lady Macbeth) on the trauma of losing a child. These themes are ever present in the background of Macbeth and we have connected the production with our National Endowment for the Humanities funded Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives program where we discuss Ancient Greek Tragedy in the context of modern combat veterans' experiences. Guy, who has been presenting workshops for the program, has incorporated many of the interactions he's had with combat veterans and their families into his performance. With this in mind, we are planning a special event for the veteran community on Tuesday, April 10th, 2012, called Traumatic Heroes: Herakles & Macbeth which will feature a staged reading/screening of Aquila's adaptation of Euripides' Herakles and scenes from Macbeth followed by a Town Hall-style meeting with veterans in the audience."

Aquila's Herakles project grew out of Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives and involves an innovative portrayal of the chorus who are presented in the form of edited interviews on film with combat veterans from WWII, Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan. Aquila presented a version of this program at the White House on November 16th 2011.  Ancient Greeks/Modern Lives: Poetry-Drama-Dialogue is a major new national public program by Aquila Theatre, supported by a prestigious Chairman's Special Award from the National Endowment of the Humanities aimed at bringing the veteran community and public together around the ancient works. This free public program of staged readings, lectures, reading groups and workshops is visiting 100 libraries, arts centers, museums, theatres and galleries across America from May 2010 to April 2013.

The Aquila Theatre Company was founded in London in 1991 by Peter Meineck and has been based in New York City since 1999. Aquila's mission is to bring the greatest theatrical works to the greatest number. To this end Aquila presents a regular season of plays in New York, at international festivals, and tours to approximately seventy American towns and cities each