The chanting of “double, double toil and trouble” will reverberate throughout South Abington Park, this weekend as well as next, as Ghostlight Productions returns with its sixth annual Shakespeare in the Park production, “Macbeth.”
The free show, designed to bring Shakespeare’s plays to a wider audience, will take place on Fridays and Saturdays, May 30-31, and June 6-7, at 6:30 p.m. and on Sundays, June 1 and 8, at 2:30 p.m. at South Abington Park, located off of Northern Boulevard near the South Abington Elementary School.
Director Jonathan Strayer explained that “Macbeth” is one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies; combining both human and supernatural elements in order to explore how far one man would go to obtain what he thinks he deserves.
“Of all the tragedies that there are, I really wanted to direct ‘Macbeth,’” he said. “It is a real situation; one of the things I’ve learned as I dug into the script is that Shakespeare was no fool in his writing. Everything he wrote was for a purpose – even the way he wrote it had a purpose. His themes are universally relevant. That’s why his plays have lasted for 400 years; the principles apply to us today just as they did to his audiences in the 1600s. With Macbeth, that intrigues me. He is often seen as this great villain or monster but, in reality, he is just this guy who makes bad choices who then owns it. He gets sucked into that hole, it is a downward spiral.”
Macbeth’s story takes place on the moors of Scotland, where he has just achieved a battlefield victory on behalf of his king. The prophecy of nine witches, who claim that Macbeth will eventually become king of Scotland, sets into motion a series of events that see both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth commit heinous acts in order to secure the throne.
While the Shakespearean tragedy is known for its portrayal of dismal events surrounding the title character, Strayer believes that the true tragedy would be if audiences walked away without having learned something from Macbeth’s mistakes.
“He keeps making bad choice after bad choice and that is so relevant to us now,” he said. “People make bad choices that lead to other bad choices.”
“It is essential for us not to view Macbeth as a monster but as a human in the same way we are all human and all capable of making these bad choices,” Strayer continued. “How do we learn from it? How do we guard ourselves from making those bad decisions? Or, more specific to our production, how do we avoid being susceptible to the dark influences around us?”
Strayer credits this year’s cast and crew with helping to humanize one of Shakespeare’s most mythical characters.
“We definitely have the right cast for this show,” he said. “It is a diverse cast and there are a lot of people we haven’t worked with before this year, which is extremely exciting.”
“‘Macbeth’ itself is interesting and intriguing to people; it isn’t produced very often, despite its popularity,” he continued. “It is one of the bloodier tragedies and intimidating. I have never directed a play where I have been so intimidated by the script as this one. It is an amazing piece of work. We are trying our best to tell a good story.”