For theatre lovers at the University of King’s College and Dalhousie University, it’s going to be a week of back-to-back Shakespeare.
From Wednesday to Friday, the King’s Theatrical Society (KTS) is performing Macbeth in the basement of the A&A Building. On Saturday and Sunday, the Dalhousie Theatre Society is doing the same at the Dalhousie Arts Centre.
The KTS version is “intimate” and “dressed down,” according to a post on its Facebook page. The actors perform in modern clothes, with no set design and few props. Chairs are set up on three sides of the room so that the audience is surrounded by the action.
“The goal is to pare it down,” KTS director Julia Hancock-Song said Tuesday.
The casting is gender-neutral. Lady Macduff appears as a royal bodyguard. The physician and two of the hired killers are women. The three witches and the spirits they conjure are played by one male actor, Jack Smith, who uses different masks and voices to distinguish them.
This is Hancock-Song’s first time directing a full-length play.
“The sheer hours (are difficult),” she said. “I haven’t been both at home and awake for more than two hours over the last month.”
She enjoys it, though, since Macbeth is one of her favourite plays: “It’s very intelligent about a lot of things, like gender, power, autonomy and death.”
Dal announced their performance first, but neither of the casts knew about the other until it was too late to prepare a different play.
“I found out the day proposals were due,” said Hancock-Song. “I’m really glad we’re doing it anyway; they’re going to be really, really, really different shows.”
Like many Shakespeare fans, Hancock-Song is familiar with the tradition that Macbeth is cursed. She dismisses that belief and has no problem speaking the name of the play out loud.
“Come at your own risk,” she said, laughing. “There might be evil spirits; we’ve done everything we can to piss them off.”
With the two plays happening back-to-back, the box offices are offering a discount: buy tickets to one show and see the other for free.