As a teenager, Macbeth was the first Shakespeare play that I read and could more or less understand, and it has always held a dark fascination for me. In addition to being a play full of all the things that make going to the theatre fun (sword fights! romance! magic! murder!), it’s a tightly focused story, with very little fat or ornamentation. The plot gallops onwards at a breathless pace, leaving little time for Macbeth or his wife to contemplate fully the seriousness of their actions. Just as one small lie begets another, the real tragedy of this play is how these two basically good (though flawed) people make one horrible mistake and then have to make many more to cover up the first one, finding themselves “in blood stepp’d in so far…” Something is missing in the hearts of the Macbeths, and that emptiness leaves just enough room for the tiny and insidious fingers of envy and reckless ambition to pry into their very souls. This initial “horrid deed,” born out of a need to fill the emptiness in their lives, snowballs into something that neither of them can control, and in the end, there’s only one way out of the hell they’ve created for themselves.
Growing up in the suburbs of Northern California, the mists of Scotland on dark highland nights are always how I pictured the edge of the world. I always imagined that they represented the very thin line between civilization and a moral (and actual) wasteland. Shifting ice seemed an apt metaphor for this production, as there’s something supernaturally unreal about it. While brittle, it can still kill you; it’s cold to the touch, yet still beautiful; you can see your reflection in it, but it’s not quite you looking back through it. We’ve set this production in that gray area between the real and the unreal, where the supernatural can fade in and out of the icy void that becomes both a literal place and a state of mind for the Macbeths. Wandering farther out into these icy mists, we watch them descend deeper and deeper into a wilderness from which they can’t return. It’s a complex play for the actors, for the crew, and for the director but pure dark fun for the audience as we get to take a brief journey with the Macbeths across that dark divide. Traveling with this cast and crew to the heart of darkness has been a joy.
I’m thrilled to be back in Nashville directing a play so close to my heart at a company that means so much to me and my family. Many of my best and most formative life experiences have been at NSF, and it was very much the model I kept in mind when I was hired to start my own Shakespeare festival in Arkansas. Denice is the fairy godmother of Nashville theatre and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with her and NSF to create a piece of theatre we hope will provoke, inspire, entertain, and haunt you for years to come.
Matt Chiorini, Director
The Tragedy of Macbeth, Winter Shakes, 2013
Macbeth runs January 10 – 27, 2013, at Belmont Univeristy’s Troutt Theater. For more information and tickets visit nashvilleshakes.org/wintershakespeare.htm