"Macbeth" is Shakespeare’s timeless treatise on subterfuge and vaulting ambition. It is his shortest tragedy and warns against seeking political power for its own sake.
It also plumbs the dark thoughts humans try to suppress.
The Acadiana Repertory Theatre will bring the classic and a special companion piece to the stage in late November, the culmination of a project spanning two years and two playwrights.
“The witches are in,” said Steven Landry, who will play Macbeth, both in the 76-page adaptation by Vanessa Miller and in Lindsay Joy’s “A Dagger in His Smile,” an offshoot set in South Louisiana. “What we cut out was a lot of the extra war and planning of battles and focused on the supernatural and Macbeth’s ambition leading to his destruction.”
In other words, the juicy stuff.
The Macbeth Project was conceived when an Acadiana Repertory member mentioned she’d never had an opportunity to do classics since the theater company’s mission is only new works. So ART commissioned the companion show last year.
“New works are as relevant as the classics,” said Landry. “We’re new, we’re chic, one of a handful of companies in the country who only do new works, and this is taking place in Lafayette. It’s ambitious, big and splashy.
“It suits Lafayette.”
“A Dagger in His Smile” takes place in a small Louisiana town, where a couple, Mac and Lady, are running for mayor. It follows some of the original Macbeth themes and has a similar storyline, but with a voodoo shop and LSU tailgate. Prior to writing the play, Joy visited South Louisiana to experience the region.
The two shows share a director, cast and set.
“You don’t have to know 'Macbeth' to enjoy the second one,” said Landry. "'Macbeth' is 'Macbeth.' It’s a dark comedy and very much identifiable as a South Louisiana show. The three witches will transfer, and Lord and Lady McDuff will transition. Both plays run on two Sundays, at two and at six, and the bar stays open in between. You can spend the day.”
Directed by Debbie Ardoin, "Macbeth" will use modern costuming but the original language, which depends heavily on tone and inflection.
“You have to learn to observe punctuation and not the end of a line,” said Landry. “It’s verse, iambic pentameter. You have to do your research.”
Landry said any timing to current events is purely coincidental and hopes people walk away with the realization that this is what it has always been. “We have to hold people responsible. Absolute power cannot remain unchecked,” he said. “You get the throne and realize everyone’s against you. What fascinates me about Macbeth is if he’d stopped at Duncan, he’d be a hero.”
Etienna Wright plays Lady Macbeth, and there is emphasis on the romantic tie that binds.
“It gives justification for why he listened to her,” explained Landry. “He believed the prophecy, he believed the king thing would happen. It’s interesting to watch his devolvement.
“There’s always a woman to blame,” he added with a laugh. “Men have no power in this show. I get to yell, scream and give some good speeches.”
'Macbeth' & 'A Dagger in His Smile'
Acadiana Repertory Theatre productions
'MACBETH' performances: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 29, Dec. 1, Dec. 7; 2 p.m. Dec. 2, Dec. 9
'DAGGER' performances: 7:30 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 6, Dec. 8; 6 p.m. Dec. 2, Dec. 9