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The murder & madness of MacBeth

Erin Cowell - July 5th, 2010
The Murder & Madness of Macbeth: Interlochen production offers an intimate look into a royal crime
By Erin Crowell
Macbeth -- the psychological story of murder, power and a royal
couple’s downward spiral – is William Shakespeare’s most infamous
tragedy, aside from the star-crossed lovers of Romeo & Juliet.
Interlochen Art Center’s professional theatre—a 32-person ensemble of
faculty, staff and alumni—presents Macbeth as the third installment of
the its annual Shakespeare Festival, July 1-11.
The first two productions included the lighthearted comedies Twelfth
Night and The Taming of the Shrew. This season, the arts center goes
dark.
“We chose Macbeth as our first tragedy, to break out of the comedy
mode,” says director and Shakespeare Festival creator William Church.
“I think it’s the most accessible to audiences. It’s scary, sexy and
fun.”

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
What makes this production of Macbeth different from others?
“We have personalized this play. We made Macbeth a real person,” says
James Francis Ginty, who plays the title role.
Ginty, who graduated from Interlochen in 1999, currently lives in Los
Angeles. He is credited with acting roles in films such as “K-19: The
Widowmaker” and “Surrogates,” along with appearances on television
shows “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Days of Our Lives.”
“For me, the excitement is the audience’s ability to experience what
Macbeth is feeling. You can really read his thoughts,” says Church.
A major contribution to the play’s intimacy comes from the venue.
Performed in Harvey Theater, on the Interlochen campus, Macbeth will
take place on a three-quarters thrust stage, with the audience
situated on three of the four sides.
“This sort of proximity and intimacy really helps for this type of
production,” says Church. “For the set, itself, we’re collaborating
with sculptor Bill Allen.”

TORMENT & TENDERNESS
Allen—a local artist whose work has been featured at several venues,
including the Dennos Museum Center and the Michigan Legacy Art Park—is
known for his latest abstract and dark figures.
“I checked out his work and I was struck by how tormented, frightening
and disturbing the sculptures are,” says Church. “It really felt like
Macbeth.”
Allen has worked on several artistic collaborations; including his
work with poet Fleda Brown in the spring exhibit “ConTexTure,” at the
Dennos Museum Center.
“I enjoy using my art,” explains Allen. “I feel it expands the meaning
of my work.”
The sculptures exude the torment that Shakespeare’s main character
experiences throughout the play; but, this production of Macbeth is
more than just “double, double toil and trouble.”
“We’ve infused a sense of tenderness,” says Ginty, “between my
character and Lady Macbeth,” (played by alumna Caitlin
McDonough-Thayer).
Ginty says Macbeth isn’t about a guy who’s crazy, but rather “a man who falls.”
One of the challenges for Ginty was telling his agent that he would
disappear into the Northern Michigan woods for several weeks.
“Theatre doesn’t pay the, uh, premiums that film and television do,’
he explains. “My agent asked me, ‘Why would you want to go to the
middle of nowhere for practically no money?’
“I said, ‘this is where I went to school.’
“His response was, ‘Great, give a lecture,’” Ginty laughs.
Church says all the alumni have been fully supportive of the production.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” says Church. “It’s a way to celebrate
Interlochen’s theater alumni. It also gives our faculty and staff a
way to keep up on their art.”
Church and Ginty believe everyone will be able to relate to the play –
whether it’s thrilling sword fights or the romanticism of the
Shakespearean world.
“It’s a great first-time Shakespeare experience,” says Ginty. “We want
people to leave this play saying, ‘Man, I really want that Shakespeare
guy to become a part of my life.”

The Third Annual Shakespeare Festival is happening now, July 1-11, at
Interlochen’s Harvey Theater. Tickets are $26 and are available at
tickets.interlochen.org or by calling the box office at 800-681-5920.
But, hurry – they’re going fast.

 
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