Heading the cast of 20 is Broadway actor CJ Wilson as Macbeth and Jacqueline Antaramian (9 Parts of Desire, Scorched) as Lady Macbeth.
The Wilma Theater opens its season with Macbeth, directed by Blanka Zizka, co-founder of the company has been staging plays for thirty years, but has never tried Shakespeare. Zizka spoke by phone this week about the challenge for her.
“I was actually afraid of doing Shakespeare simply because I am Czech, a foreign born American. I basically learned English by doing theater and watching television and reading papers. For me doing Shakespeare seemed to me going into even another language.”
Bucking centuries old tradition. Zizka doesn’t avoid saying the title Macbeth aloud instead of referring to it as ‘the Scottish play.’ She’s not buying into the supposed ‘curse’ that hovers. “I don’t think there is a curse. I think the play has a lot of physical stuff- the fights and witches flying for instance. There are just different physical demands in the play and more things can go wrong, so these superstitions go on.”
Hers is a contemporized Macbeth with high concept, stark designs by Mimi Lien and costumes by Oana Botez-ban. Zizka further defies those backstage jinxes with daredevil choreography by Brian Sanders, who has devised supernatural illusions for those ‘weird sisters’ stirring up the cauldron. Sanders is coming off his hugely successful homoerotic dark dance piece Sanctuary, at the Live Arts Festival.
But Zizka’s focus is also on the relevancy of the poisonous politics of a ruthless king and queen and a country imperiled by their hunger for power. “I’m always interested in looking at plays that depict a world that is changing. And how that impacts individual lives. Macbeth sure does that. It starts at the end of a civil war and a country that is dealing with a tyrant. It‘s not that different than many of the contemporary plays I‘ve directed at the Wilma.”
“I’m not defining the time in Macbeth exactly. by putting this at the end of the 20th century. and putting it in an unnamed country, so that, for instance, the soldiers aren’t identified, they are more of a militia than a particular army