Eastern Illinois University student actors will perform five performances of William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” this month after mastering Scottish dialect and sword fighting techniques for the debut.
Shakespeare’s classical tragedy, filled with lords, warriors and witches, centers on Macbeth’s thirst for power and his willingness to go to any means, even murder, to obtain it.
Jean Wolski, professor of theatre at EIU, said they focused on a Scottish theme — requiring students to learn Scottish dialect by listening to recording tapes and native speakers — because of Scottish influences found throughout the play.
“The play, set in Scotland, was the first piece that Shakespeare wrote for the new King James, who was of Scottish descent,” she said. “Macbeth is even nicknamed by theatre aficionados as the “Scottish play” because of a legendary cursed placed on the text by the witches in the play. Supposedly those who say the title will be cursed with bad luck.”
The Scottish theme allowed students to explore the history of the play, but also helped them master other dialects, which is essential to acting and performing, she said.
Other performances of Macbeth do not always focus on the Scottish setting of the play, and instead actors will speak in their normal voices, Wolski said.
“Anytime you see Macbeth, there is a different take on the story, which is the great part of working with Shakespeare,” Wolski said.
Last summer, Wolski even traveled to Scotland to help research more about the setting of the play for her students. Other than mastering dialects, students also worked diligently to create props and costumes modeled after the time period with EIU’s Art Department contributing props, as well.
Showings for the play at The Theatre in the Doudna Fine Arts Center include:7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 26 through Saturday, March 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 2.
Tickets for the performance will be $12, $10 for EIU employees and seniors (62+), and $5 for students. For ticket information call, (217) 581-3110 or email email@example.com.