Roaring ’20s New Orleans recreated in MU Quad

Bard in the Quad, Oregon State University’s popular outdoor summer Shakespeare program, returns for its fifth season with “Macbeth.” One of Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedies, “Macbeth” will run Aug. 4-8 and Aug. 11-15, beginning at 7:30 p.m. on the Memorial Union quad.

Set in gritty Prohibition-era New Orleans, this production features Macbeth as the owner of a seedy nightclub and member of a powerful underworld crime syndicate. Beloved by local kingpin Duncan for his loyalty and fighting prowess, Macbeth’s thirst for power gets the better of him upon hearing the ominous premonitions of three mysterious ladies of the night.

This production of Shakespeare’s classic tale of ruthless ambition features brutal street brawls, baseball-bat wielding thugs, jazz music, and clairvoyant prostitutes. The tagline for the play is: “Something wicked this way comes. Dirty. Sexy. Fun.”

Upon developing the concept for this summer’s production, director Elizabeth Helman moved the Shakespeare play from its original Scottish locale to 1920s Louisiana.

“In my close readings of the play, I was struck by the notion that Macbeth as a character is a profoundly flawed human being from the start,” she said. “Rather than being a play about a good man’s fall from grace, this is a play about a morally questionable man discovering his own fragile humanity a little too late.”

Inspired by the films of Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese, Helman intends this production to be a violent, bloody thrill-ride balancing the brutality and tawdry glamour of the era with some of Shakespeare’s most profoundly moving verses about life and death.

“Macbeth is a fascinating character to take apart; he’s a ruthless killer with the soul of a philosopher,” she said.

To get a behind-the-scenes look at Macbeth in the Quad, see http://osutheatreplays.blogspot.com/. You can also become a fan of Bard in the Quad on Facebook.

The cast features Matt Holland (Corvallis) as Macbeth, Erin Cunningham (Corvallis) as Lady Macbeth, Andrew Atkinson (Medford) as Banquo, Alexander Johnston (Forest Grove) as Donalbain, McKenzie Miller (La Grande) as Fleance/Macduff’s Daughter, Dan Mueller (Houston) as Macduff, Jordyn Patton (San Diego) as Lady Macduff, Rowan Russell (San Francisco) as Ross, Robert LaFever (Rogue River) as Malcolm, Charles Lind (Corvallis) as Duncan/Porter, and Jamie Bilderback (Wilsonville), Chiaki Horan (Tokyo) and Kevin McIntosh (Beaverton) as the Weird Sisters.

Tickets prices are $14 general admission, $10 students/seniors, $7 for OSU students and are available online at www.bardinthequad.org or through the OSU Theatre box office  at 541-737-2784.

This play contains violent and adult subject matter that may not be suitable for all viewers. No seating is provided for the show and there are no reserved seating areas. Audiences are encouraged to bring blankets, low lawn chairs, or other forms of seating.

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