The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s winter Shakespeare production will be “Macbeth,” one of the Bard’s darkest and most famous tragedies.
Set in an unforgiving, post-apocalyptic world, the warrior Macbeth, spurred on by a supernatural prophecy and his power-hungry wife, is driven to murder and ultimate madness in his unrelenting quest to gain and keep the throne.
The action-packed production will run Jan. 9-26 at Belmont’s Troutt Theater in Nashville. It will then tour to Franklin’s Academy Park Performing Arts Center from Jan. 30-Feb. 2 and to Middle Tennessee State University’s Tucker Theatre in Murfreesboro from Feb. 6-8.
Then, for the first time, NSF will take the full production to Tullahoma for student matinees and one public performance Feb. 14 and finish the tour in Clarksville for student matinees and one public performance Feb. 21. NSF’s decision to tour the production will allow thousands more middle and high school students to experience Shakespeare in a visceral, memorable way.
David Wilkerson, a longtime NSF collaborator, local actor, director and fight choreographer who teaches in the MTSU theatre department and edited the text, also directs the play.
“This Macbeth is an exploration of those moments that tempt us to deny the humanity in others, thus throwing away a piece of our own,” said Wilkerson. “In this defiled world, our choices can ease the corruption and the power of the creatures that feed on it, or our actions can add to it.”
Playing the title role will be Sam Ashdown, who will return to the Nashville Shakes stage after his critically acclaimed performances of Hamlet in “Hamlet” in 2018 and Mark Antony in “Julius Caesar” in 2019.
Playing the merciless Lady Macbeth will be Nashville native Mariah Parris. Jordan Gleaves will return to NSF to play Banquo, and NSF veteran Brian Russell will play Duncan. Other past NSF actors in the cast will be Delaney Keith as a witch and Porter, Joy Greenawalt-Lay as Lady Macduff and Fleance, Kit Bulla as a witch, Andrew Johnson as Seyton and Natalie Rankin as a witch. Joining the company for the first time will be Elyse Dawson as Macduff, DeYonte Jenkins as Ross, Jonathan Contreras as Lennox, Lucy Buchanan as Malcolm and 11-year-old Micah Williams as Donalbaine.
Creating the eerie, ruinous, physical world of “Macbeth” will be set designer Jim Manning, lighting designer Anne Willingham, costume designer Jocelyn Melechinsky, props designer Amanda Creech and composer Evan Wilkerson will design the sound.
The many battle scenes and murders in the play will be co-choreographed by fight director Carrie Brewer and director David Wilkerson.
Performances at Belmont’s Troutt Theater at 2112 Belmont Blvd. in Nashville will be from Jan. 9-26 with Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. At Franklin’s Academy Park Performing Arts Center at 112 Everbright Ave., shows will be Jan 30-Feb 2, and at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre at 615 Champion Way in Murfreesboro, performances will be Feb. 6-8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance and $33 at the door. Purchase $100 VIP royal packages, which include reserved parking, prime seating and other perks at nashvilleshakes.org or at ticketsnashville.com.
All of NSF’s programming is supported in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission and Metro Arts. The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest presents Shakespeare in American Communities. The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is one of 40 professional theater companies across the nation selected to perform a Shakespeare play with a professional team of actors for middle and high schools and conduct related educational activities for students.