Utah Shakespeare Festival to Bring ‘Macbeth’ to Washington County

utah shakespeare festivals macbeth
Todd Zimbleman (left), Jennifer Whipple, and Kelly Marie Hennessey as Witches in the Utah Shakespeare Festival’s 2011 Shakespeare-in-the-Schools production of Macbeth. (Photo by Karl Hugh. Copyright Utah Shakespeare Festival 2011.)

WASHINGTON COUNTY — The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare in the Schools touring production of “Macbeth” will give performances for local students in Washington County. Performances will take place at Hurricane High School at 11:00 a.m. on February 23, 2011, and at Dixie High School at 9:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. on February 25, 2011. Tickets are not available to the general public, but more information about the performances is available by calling the schools directly.

“Students will love ‘Macbeth’ because it is a passionate play filled with bloody, supernatural elements,” said Festival Education Director Michael Bahr. “Despite the thrilling nature of the play, it is also a morality tale that has a great message for students of all ages. At the conclusion, Macbeth suffers the consequences of unchecked ambition.”

From January to April, the Festival will present the education tour of “Macbeth” to more than 30,000 students in four western states. The tour will spend 13 weeks on the road visiting schools, community centers and prisons across Utah, Nevada, Arizona and Wyoming, with about 60 performances in 50 schools as part of the Shakespeare for a New Generation program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Director Christopher Clark has created a “garden shed” production of “Macbeth” with the actors using various found objects as set and prop pieces. The stage will be filled with sticks, ladders, wheel barrows, umbrellas and other objects that would likely be found in the average garden shed, but each of these items will be used to represent something entirely different. For example, a stick will be used to represent a sword.

“If the average student were staging this play with friends in their backyard, these are objects that the student would likely have access to,” said Clark. “Our production takes everyday objects and uses them in an innovative way to tell the story. I think students will find this production to be inspirational as well as educational.”

Clark is an assistant professor of acting at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. Prior to his current appointment, he was a member of the faculty at Brigham Young University, where he directed touring productions of Shakespeare for nine years. Clark earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Exeter in England, where he worked at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. The program focuses on original practice in performance, which informs the way Clark approaches his directing projects.

“What we are doing here is not all that different from how Shakespeare’s company presented this play over 400 years ago,” said Clark. “It is my opinion that you don’t need expensive designs to reach an audience. The power of suggestion is often more effective. The rudimentary props and set pieces used in this production, through the power of suggestion, tell a great story.”

Each year, the Festival creates a production of a Shakespeare classic to visit communities across four western states. The ten-person touring group serves as both the acting company and technical crew for each production, with seven actors playing more than 20 different roles, a stage manager, technical director and company manager. The group also works with students in workshops ranging from stage combat to Shakespeare text.

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