By Jennifer Ward
Picture this: seven teenage girls convene in the woods to perform a play. They drop their backpacks, pull out their props, and dive into a retelling of “Macbeth”. As the girls conjure kings, warriors, and witches, Shakespeare’s bloody tale begins to seep into their reality. All of this is being performed as a gender-bending production this weekend at Purchase.
Two senior theater and performance majors, Chris Padro and Sara Meade, have worked together to help put on a performance of “Mac Beth,” adapted by Erica Schmidt in the Center for Media, Film, and Theater this upcoming weekend.
This version of “Macbeth” gives new depth to the already classic Shakespeare story. The Scottish play, already well known, has been given its own twist, allowing power to characters who may never have been given it before.
“I hate the way the women in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ are portrayed. It makes me so angry,” said Meade. “They were powerless and die, or are witches no one else considers them women. So I was really happy to take this story and to put it back in the hands of women and be like, what does it mean for women to have ambition?”
The characters in the show have been completely twisted in this particular production. This show helps to transcend gender roles and bring new light to the story, allowing it to introduce a whole new range of people who may not have appreciated the original Shakespeare production.
“It’s really empowering having a bunch of girls putting on this play about manhood,” said Padro. “It’s such an awesome oxymoron. It feels very feminist.”
With both Meade and Padro not only having this show as their senior project, but also both playing starring roles in it can be time-consuming, but seemingly worth it.
“I didn’t know what to pick for my senior project but I knew I wanted to work with women and do something focused on women and how they behave towards each other,” said Meade. “I saw they had the rights out and I was just like ‘what a great way to combine a classic story and get women involved, and what an interesting take on it.’ I called Chris that night and she agreed to do it. The rest is history.”
Covering a show with such heavy topics can be anxiety-inducing, but luckily for the cast of “Mac Beth," the bonding of their group has helped relax the environment significantly.
“It helps make a safe space because a lot of serious stuff happens in this show. It’s hard to do that with a cast you’re not really comfortable with or feel safe with,” said Padro.
Junior Chelsea Muller, double majoring in theater and performance as well as psychology, has taken on the role of director, helping take charge of the project, and is excited to make her directorial debut.
“It was as fun as you can make the heavier topics be,” said Muller. “I feel we all just wanted to make art, we all just wanted to make this as amazing as an experience as possible.”
For those who may already be familiar with the original production of “Macbeth," this new take on it may be just as captivating, if not more so.
“I would say this production is about girls taking an old piece of text, and just making it their own,” said Muller. “They can use this play by Shakespeare as an outlet to act on things they don’t normally act on in their everyday lives and just use this as an opportunity to throw all the cares and judgments away and let them be completely themselves.”
An actress for the show, a senior theater and performance major Rossy Veras, shows nothing but love for her fellow cast members and the production that she shows nothing but pride to be part of, seemingly a common theme for this cast.
Production following a show with heavy themes of loyalty, guilt, innocence, and fate is bound to put any audience member in for a ride, as well as a must-see. “I would say Macbeth is a person who is easily persuaded, especially by speculation and maybe a little bit of magic,” said Veras. “We just can’t wait for the audience to gasp, become in awe, or give us a standing ovation. We just want to impact the community and audience.”
You can support the senior project of Padro and Meade, as well as the entire cast and crew of “Mac Beth,” from May 12 through May 15 every day at 5:30 p.m. in the CMFT Amphitheater. More updates can be found at @somethingwickedatpurch on Instagram.