When choosing its next production, there was no “toil and trouble” for University Theatre this year: the 2023-24 season, inspired by the works of William Shakespeare, kicks off this November with “Macbeth.”
Performances will begin the weekend of Nov. 2-4, and will continue the weekend of Nov. 9-11. All showtimes will begin at 7 p.m.
Jonathan Strayer, director of dramatics and assistant professor, says he and his students are excited to produce this for Millersville and the larger Lancaster community.
Strayer was inspired for this year’s season by the students’ growing interest in Shakespeare. “This production is my own adaptation of Shakespeare’s text. This is my favorite play of Shakespeare’s, so much of what people love and recognize about the play will still be present,” he says.
“We’ve reworked a few things to highlight some moments, kept a few sections that are often edited out and streamlined a few things to make for a production that moves along at a good pace,” he continues.
There are between 40 to 50 students involved in this production, all from a wide variety of majors, minors and concentrations. “The students have put in a variety of work, from learning lines and building characters to practicing the stage combat choreography for the fights to designing lights, constructing scenery and so much more,” says Strayer.
Strayer notes that it takes a lot of time and preparation for a production like this, from everyone involved. “Because this is a tragedy and violence is at the core of the story, then stage violence must be a part of that process,” he says. “We spend a lot of time in the process training in the foundations of the stage combat we are performing, creating and learning the choreography, and rehearsing it safely up to performance speed.”
“Our fight director for this production is Jared Kirby, historical fencing master and founder of New York Combat for Stage and Screen, and he has created some adventurous and at times brutal stage combat for our production of this iconic tragedy,” Strayer adds.
Even before rehearsals could begin, Strayer wanted to make sure the production started off the right way. “The process of directing every production starts with the script. Since this is my adaptation, I spent weeks researching and pouring over the script using primarily the text from the First Folio and supplementing with contemporary texts where needed.”
“I also used numerous scholarly resources that deal with historical context, original performance, and original pronunciation. While this is not a period performance, all that theatrical history is incredibly important and influential when I’m working on adaptations. After that we move into production approach, character sketches and eventually auditions, casting and rehearsals,” he concludes.
Tickets are now available for “Macbeth.” Click here for more information.