'Macbeth' at a time when everything is shifting

by John Moore | Aug 17, 2017
Making of 'Macbeth'

Photos from the first day of rehearsal for Robert O'Hara's 'Macbeth' for the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow in the image above. 'Macbeth' plays Sept. 15-Oct. 29 in the newly reopened Space Theatre. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.

Rehearsals open in a divided country roiling and reeling from violence that is becoming commonplace in its streets

By John Moore
Senior Arts Journalist

The DCPA Theatre Company opened rehearsals Tuesday for the first offering of its 39th season in a deeply divided country that is roiling and reeling from violence that is again becoming commonplace in its streets.

That makes it both important – and poignant – to be re-examining the troubled world of Shakespeare’s bloodthirsty tragedy of Macbeth right now through the lens of a rising, rebel director named Robert O’Hara, DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said in an impassioned welcome to cast, crew, staff and guests.

Macbeth Nataki Garrett“Everything about the way we live is shifting,” Garrett said. “And that’s why this is the perfect time to be doing this play right now, in the middle of the shift. We are in this chrysalis right now, trying to figure out who we are as a people, who we are as a theatre community, who we are as creative people,” Garrett said.

“Especially in light of where we are right now, particularly in the United States, this is what you do: You do this play, right now, because Shakespeare has this uncanny way of reaching forward and back at the same time, and making us really think about why we think the things we do. Who put those ideas there? And is there a way to have a different way of thinking than the way we think now."

Garrett promised those gathered that O’Hara’s Macbeth “ain’t your grandmama's Macbeth.” O’Hara’s Macbeth is set entirely at the Pit of Acheron, a swamp near Macbeth's castle where the witches are ordered to bring Macbeth. Only in this telling it’s years, perhaps centuries later, and the witches are warlocks.

“I thought, what if every so often, a bunch of witches go off and tell that messed-up story about that guy who went off killing people just because they told him he was going to be king? That would be interesting …  and crazy,” O’Hara said.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

"We tend to demonize the witches. We blame them for what Macbeth does in the story. They always got the short end of the stick. So, what if our play is about giving those ancient witches a renewed voice, through this ritual?”

O’Hara’s Macbeth will have a very modern, almost futuristic element, “but also one that honors the past,” said award-winning scenic designer Jason Sherwood. Dede M. Ayite's costumes will offer “lots of skin, and lots of leather,” she said, “and when we transition into the actual storytelling we will have pieces that reflect Jacobean garments.” Alex Jainchill’s lighting design will incorporate modern technologies and incorporate dub-step music from sound designer Lindsay Jones.

Video, photos: Our coverage of the Space Theatre opening

“Robert called me last week and said, ‘Hey did I tell you that you were writing a score that's like Game of Thrones?’ And I was like, 'No, you did not.' So I'm writing a score that's like Game of Thrones, along with rap music, lots of sound effects and other really exciting stuff.”

O’Hara and Garrett hope this reimagined way of looking at Macbeth will give audiences another way of contextualizing the shocking daily headlines that are becoming more and more difficult to process.

“We are a nation that moves and evolves. Said Garrett. “We are a theatre company that moves and evolves, and it is moving before our very eyes right now. And so I am very excited to have this play open our new Space Theatre, open our season and open our minds."

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


Macbeth
: Ticket information

Macbeth_seasonlineup_200x200At a glance: Forget what you know about Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy. Director Robert O’Hara breathes new life (and death) into this raw reimagining for the grand reopening of The Space Theatre. To get what he wants, Macbeth will let nothing stand in his way – not the lives of others or his own well-being. As his obsession takes command of his humanity and his sanity, the death toll rises and his suspicions mount. This ambitious reinvention reminds us that no matter what fate is foretold, the man that chooses to kill must suffer the consequences.
  • Presented bythe DCPA Theatre Company
  • First performance Sept. 15, through Oct. 29
  • Space Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex
  • Tickets start at $25
  • Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE
  • Sales to groups of 10 or more click here

7 comments

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  1. Anna Suhhyda | Oct 31, 2017
    Hi, I was also interested in a song list used for the play! We loved it!! 
  2. Liz C | Oct 12, 2017
    Can someone provide a list of the songs used in the production? The selections were amazing but I only recognized a couple! Gorgeous production by the way, I had chills the entire time. 
  3. DCPA NewsCenter | Sep 06, 2017
    The 17+ rating is a merely a guideline for parents – not a requirement. Students under the age of 17 will be able to attend. This rating has been suggested because this production will include a significant amount of violence, and some nudity and sexual situations.
     
    Since the show is still in rehearsal, we don’t have a 100% understanding of how intense, overt or lengthy any of these elements will be. It is possible that when we see the final product, the age recommendation may shift.
  4. Elizabeth Roesch | Sep 05, 2017
    Can you clarify the 17+ recommendation?  Where can I get more information on the criteria for this - we'd love to bring our shakespeare loving boys, but don't want to do so in error.  Thanks
  5. John Moore | Sep 01, 2017
    Hi, Ami. This is John Moore, the writer of the story. The director, Robert O'Hara, is not changing a word, so yes, you can expect Shakespeare's actual dialogue. (But as you likely know, very few productions retain all of Shakespeare's original scripts.)  
  6. Eileen McGinnity | Aug 21, 2017
    Why would I ever want to forget everyhing I know about Shakespeare's Macbeth? 
  7. Ami Sadler | Aug 19, 2017

    Will Shakespeare's actual dialogue be used as he wrote it?

    Thank you.

    Leave a comment

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    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.