St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s (SMCM) Department of Theater, Film and Media Studies (TFMS) has been working hard to cast, rehearse, and produce William Shakespeare’s “MacBeth” just in time for Halloween. Amy Steiger, Ph. D., is at the helm of the production, serving as the director of her fifth play at SMCM. This adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s classics contains stupendous acting, producing and an exhilarating collaboration with Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC). “MacBeth” will open on Wednesday, Oct. 23.
When considering which play to produce for the fall semester, Steiger searched for plays which “would resonate in compelling ways with the site at Historic St. Mary’s City.” She explained that the ghostly and witchcraft elements of the play seemed to be well-fitting for a production set in HSMC right around Halloween. “It also seemed like there were direct historical connections between colonial Maryland and the England in which Shakespeare wrote this play to be explored,” Steiger continued.
The idea to collaborate with HSMC came from Professor Leah Mazur, who has contributed fourteen designs to seven different productions in her time at SMCM. Upon her arrival on campus, Mazur was impressed by the beauty and history possessed by HSMC. “Walking through the grounds of HSMC,” Mazur stated, “I’m filled with an overwhelming gratitude for the land around me and those that inhabited it before us.” Mazur then took the idea of using the historic site as a location for a production to Stieger, who loved the idea of using a city which “makes history present.” Mazur hopes that the intricate design and practice of the theatrical production juxtaposed with the history of the location will add onto the experience of the audience members.
Aside from the historic location of SMCM’s “MacBeth,” it is also set aside from other productions of the play because of the casting decisions; most notably Stieger’s decision to cast a female student to portray MacBeth. Jeanette Warren (‘20) originally auditioned for the role of Lady MacBeth, viewing this as her opportunity to be cast in a lead role before her graduation in the spring. “I studied Lady MacBeth’s part in the weeks leading up to auditions,” Warren began, “but was astonished to receive a callback for MacBeth himself!” In taking on the role of one of Shakespeare’s most renowned male characters, Warren sees this as an opportunity to “a new perspective to a role traditionally characterized by ‘manliness.’”
As she prepared for her performance as MacBeth, Warren noted her attempts to portray him “a complex human, filled with fears and insecurities that guide his hunger for power.” Warren mentioned the experience of portraying a male character as a process that brings both power and freedom. “Through Macbeth, I can express emotions that I otherwise feel expected to contain,” Warren explained. “I’m excited to present elements of myself that aren’t often seen — power, fear, and anger, to name a few.”
Regarding the location of the play, Warren remarked, “It is unlikely I will ever play Macbeth in a space as perfect as this one. Everything about the old city creates an immersive, eerie experience for actors and audience alike.”
The historic setting, fantastic casting choices and brilliant acting are sure to result in a phenomenal production. Mazur stated that she is most excited “for others to live in the world of Shakespeare’s Macbeth [they have] created, and [she is] excited for the audience to leave the show each night, forever chasing the theatre magic.”
Admission is open to SMCM faculty, students and the community. All are encouraged to experience MacBeth in an entirely new way. Warren stated, “I’m excited to see everyone’s efforts come together in what I believe will be a profoundly moving experience. I am immensely proud of this ensemble, and am ready for the SMCM community to share in that pride.” “MacBeth” will be performed on October 23-27, 30, 31 and November 1. Tickets can be reserved by contacting the SMCM Box Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opening night is free for students.