When Senior Maryville College student Sarah Bond tells people that she’s playing Macbeth, there’s naturally some confusion. The titular character of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is, after all, a male role. Perhaps, some have suggested, she means that she’ll be playing the role of Lady Macbeth, Macbeth’s wife.
“Nope,” laughed Bond, “I’m mister Macbeth, man Macbeth all the way.”
Bond is used to the initial confusion about her role in MC’s “Macbeth is the New Black,” an adaptation of the classic play that takes place in a juvenile detention center. In fact, she delights in the moment when she gets to explain to people that not only is she playing the titular role of Macbeth, but all of the “Macbeth” roles in the show are performed by women as well.
“I wouldn’t get this opportunity in any other production of ‘Macbeth.’ It’s very unique,” Bond said.
While “Macbeth is the New Black” is the first Shakespearean play that Bond has been a part of, she has been a participant in and a fan of theatre for her entire life. When she was younger, Bond enjoyed reading plays aloud in English class and going to see touring performances of both plays and musicals when they stopped near her home in Memphis, Tenn.
However, Bond only became actively involved in theatre after seeing a production of “Annie” in the fifth grade, performed at Bolton High School in Arlington, Tenn.
“I was in this small theatre, watching people close to my age performing ‘Annie,’” Bond said. “It was so cool, and it seemed like they were having a lot of fun. I thought, ‘this is what I want to do’.”
Bond’s first official step to participating in theatre was to join her middle school’s drama club. While she admits that most of the plays they put on were “hokey,” she found herself having fun and fell in love with theatre.
From then on, Bond was hooked, participating in theatre all throughout middle and high school before continuing to pursue it at MC.
Of all of the plays that she has been in, Bond’s favorite has been the musical “Xanadu” where she played the character of Calliope during her freshman year at MC. Not only did she enjoy being a part of the show and bonding with her cast mates, but she was also allowed to play a type of character she had never played before.
“In high school, I’d always played parts that were like different versions of me. It was a cool process of becoming Calliope, who was kind of this evil henchman. She walked differently than me, talked differently than me, even ran differently than me. I really hammed it up, and it was freeing,” Bond said.
Bond has also been involved in theatre working backstage. Her first introduction to technical theatre was in her junior year of high school when she was accepted into the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts for their technical theatre program.
While she had only been an actor before, Bond fell in love with the technical side of theatre. She has since worked in almost every aspect of technical theatre, including sewing costumes, lighting and working sound for shows.
In the summer of 2014, she was hired to work as an electrician for the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma City, Okla., where she worked on several shows including “Spamalot”. She worked the spotlights during performances, as well as other aspects of lighting when preparing for shows.
Now a senior at MC, Bond is as busy as ever, especially now as she prepares to take on the dual roles of both Macbeth and Trina, the inmate in the detention center who is playing Macbeth. Playing a traditionally male role has been challenging, but Bond has found a way to make it her own.
“When I’m playing Macbeth, I’m a king, not a queen,” Bond said. “There is a difference between when I’m Trina, a teenage girl, and when I’m Macbeth. I’m not playing a man playing Macbeth, and I’m not playing a female Macbeth. I’m playing the character of Macbeth who’s still a guy. It’s all about giving strength to the character and putting myself in it to make it believable. I ask myself what I would do in his situation and how I would feel instead of just focusing on being a man.”
Jayne Morgan, the director of “Macbeth is the New Black” as well as the co-author of the adaptation alongside Linda Marion, a playwright and poet, agreed that the characters and the themes do not change despite the all-female cast.
“It’s still about the consequences of your actions and the horror building on horror after you cross that line as Macbeth does and the girls in the detention center do. It’s still very much Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’,” Morgan said.
While “Macbeth is the New Black” is adding additional layers to an already complex play, Morgan believes that the cast, especially Bond, are more than up for the challenge.
“Sarah brings a great intelligence to the role. She really understands what Macbeth is saying. She goes deep into the character and all of Macbeth’s emotions. It’s a gusty performance, and it’s very exciting for the audience to watch,” Morgan said.
When “Macbeth is the New Black” is over, Bond will begin preparation for “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani, the show she will be directing for her senior thesis in the spring of 2015. After that, while Bond does not have any set plans for life after graduation as of yet, she knows that she wants to continue with theatre.
“Theatre is the most difficult boyfriend I’ve ever had,” joked Bond. “It can be difficult, but I love it so much and I’ll stick with it, even if I hate it half the time.”