“Macbeth is the New Black”: a fascinating twist on a classic tragedy

“Macbeth is the New Black” is a haunting adaptation of the Shakespearean tragedy “Macbeth.” The play was adapted by Jayne Morgan and Linda Marion. Morgan also directed the play. The show had an almost completely female cast and was set in a girls’ juvenile detention center. The show sold out all four of its showings on Nov. 13-16 in the Haslam Family Flexible Center. The play starred senior Sara Bond as Macbeth and senior Sara Deatherage as Lady Macbeth.

The play begins with the girls rehearsing the Shakespeare play and transitions into more personal interactions between the girls. The audience gets to see the girls’ personalities as they argue with each other and catcall and flirt with the young male director played by senior Cameron Hite. The beginning interactions in the play really set up the underlying emotions that come through once the play delves completely into Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” until the final scenes when the girls’ characters return.

This adaptation is interesting, because not only are the actors portraying the emotions of their Shakespeare character, but also the emotions of their juvenile girl character. This interesting twist gives the audience a poignant look into the lives of the girls through the lens of the play “Macbeth.”  The added element of the juvenile detention center adds another level of emotion to the familiar Shakespeare play.  The audience is really able to connect with the characters.

All of the actors did an amazing job of portraying two characters at once. The final scene of the play especially is emotionally charged as the ending actions of “Macbeth” become more real than the girls ever thought was possible. Often times in the play the actors would be saying their Shakespearean lines, but they would be portraying the emotions of their other character through their body language and facial expressions.

The set, costumes, and props all set the scene very well. The set consisted of a lunch table, a staircase, beds and other simple items you might find in a juvenile detention center.  On the back wall motivational quotes meant to inspire the girls to turn their lives around were hung up. The majority of the actors remained on stage at all times which was unique. When the characters were not in a scene they would sit on the side in the view of the audience and act like they were watching the rehearsal.

The fight choreographer, Carolyn Corley, did a great job choreographing the fights for the actresses. There were sword fights, knife fights, and fights that involved pushing and slapping. These fights were an important part of the play that Corley and the actresses did a great job on.

The lighting and effects made the play even more intriguing. The technical work in the scenes with the witches especially was eye-catching.  During the scene where the three witches are saying the incantations, they are crowded around a trash can that acted as their cauldron.  The room is dark except for a green light and fog coming out of the trash can. Further in the scene, Macbeth appears and a beam of red light shines on the actors. The light and the fog create an ominous effect in the theatre.

Morgan and Marion created a unique and captivating adaptation of the classic Shakespearean tragedy, “Macbeth.” The cast and crew of the production made the play a truly emotionally riveting piece.

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