Next year at this season, I’ll be in Red Bank, N.J. preparing a
performance of “Macbeth” for the Two Rivers Theater. It will open
in January and very likely then move to a very well-known theater
elsewhere for a second run.
The premise is that “Macbeth” is Shakespeare’s supernatural horror
story, and should be done as violently and amazingly as a modern
supernatural horror movie. Aaron Posner, the director, and I have
been talking about this for three years and this fall hit on this
simple goal: to use Shakespeare’s images and ideas to scare the
living hell out of the audience.
We will put the audience exactly into Macbeth’s place: they will see
the phantoms and share the hallucinations and be baffled. We’re
trying to get the great percussionist from “Frank’s Wild Years,” to
perform a live horror soundtrack, and we’re unrelentingly spicing the
poetry with “cat scares” smoke, lightning, bursts of blood, and corpses.
Today I spent 10 hours with Aaron Posner and Matt Holtzclaw, a
talented protégé of Jamy Ian Swiss’s (who happens to have done his
college thesis on Grand Guignol methods). We went through through
the first 2.5 acts of “Macbeth,” scene by scene, studying the script
and imagery, cutting for clarity and pacing for a modern audience,
and discussing how to join the witch characters and the magic tricks
and the shocking violence seamlessly into the scenes.
By the end of tomorrow, we’ll have completed our first draft on the
script. We downloaded the play’s text from a website and have been
cutting and inserting stage directions for our own edition.
Everything is very much just a first draft, but our goal at the end
of the next three days of work is to have the basic concept outlined,
the tricks roughed in, and ideas and questions we’d like our set
designer to address.
The theater is one of the finest I’ve ever seen. Every seat is
perfect. Aaron Posner has been directing Shakespeare all over the
country and the world for fifteen years and has great people in mind
for the cast. So this won’t be just a collection of gimmicks: it
will be great Shakespeare.
And, oh, my, do we have a shocking new idea for Lady Macbeth.
Shocking. It will make the whole second half of the play make a kind
of clear sense that I’ve certainly never seen before. I can’t tell
you about this yet.
The production will be in preparation throughout the upcoming year,
in rehearsal during December, and premiere in January, 2008.