For a play first performed in 1606, the story of Macbeth can still feel eerily relevant.
No one knows this better than Nashville Shakes, who stages one of the Bard’s darkest and most famous tragedies at Belmont’s Troutt Theater Jan. 9-26, Franklin’s Academy Park Performing Arts Center Jan. 30-Feb. 2 and MTSU’s Tucker Theater Feb. 6-8.
And for the first time, NSF will close its tour for student matinees and a public performance in Tullahoma on Feb. 14 and Clarksville on Feb. 21, allowing thousands of middle and high school students to experience Shakespeare in a memorable way.
According to the show’s director and long-time NSF collaborator David Wilkerson, “This Macbeth is an exploration of those moments that tempt us to deny the humanity in others,” he says, “thus throwing away a piece of our own.”
This action-packed iteration gives the classic tale a fresh spin, being set in an unforgiving and post-apocalyptic world. The story still follows Macbeth, spurred by supernatural prophecy and his power-hungry wife. The brave warrior is driven to murder and ultimate madness in this quest to gain the throne.
For Wilkerson, the message of the story emphasizes just how powerful our choices can be.
“In this defiled world, our choices can ease the corruption and the power of the creatures that feed on it,” he says. “Or our actions can add to it.”
Playing the title role is Sam Ashdown, returning to the Nashville Shakes stage after his critically acclaimed performances of Hamlet in Hamlet (2018) and Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (2019).
Playing the merciless Lady Macbeth is Nashville native Mariah Parris, Jordan Gleaves returns to NSF to play Banquo and NSF veteran Brian Russell will play Duncan.
Other past NSF actors in the cast are Delaney Keith (Witch/Porter), Joy Greenawalt-Lay (Lady Macduff/Fleance), Kit Bulla (Witch), Andrew Johnson (Seyton), and Natalie Rankin (Witch). Joining the company for the first time are Elyse Dawson (Macduff), DeYonte Jenkins (Ross), Jonathan Contreras (Lennox), Lucy Buchanan (Malcolm), and 11-yr-old Micah Williams (Donalbaine).
Creating the eerie, ruinous, physical world of Macbeth is set designer Jim Manning, lighting designer Anne Willingham, costume designer Jocelyn Melechinsky, props designer Amanda Creech, and composer Evan Wilkerson will design the sound. The many battle scenes and murders in the play will be co-choreographed by fight director Carrie Brewer and director David Wilkerson.
Performances at Belmont’s Troutt Theater (2112 Belmont Blvd, Nashville) are Jan. 9-26, Thursdays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2:30pm. At Franklin’s Academy Park Performing Arts Center (112 Everbright Ave, Franklin) shows are Jan. 30-Feb. 2, and at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre (615 Champion Way, Murfreesboro) performances are Jan. 31-Feb. 2, Thursday – Saturday at 7:30pm.
All of NSF’s programming is supported in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission and Metro Arts. The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest presents Shakespeare in American Communities.
Reach Michael W. Aldrich on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @michaelwaldrich.