We have been invited to appear for a short segment on Studio40 Live on Thursday, July 20 at noon. Check us out, get your tickets as you’ll surely be inspired by our witches to not miss this show.
Tickets are going fast, so if you wish to join us as we close this show this weekend, please consider buying in advance. We cannot promise that we will have walk-in capacity at show time.
I love “Macbeth.” Let me just start with that. To me it is the most perfect of Shakespeare’s tragedies (and that is with great apologies to “Hamlet” and “King Lear,” both if which I dearly love). It packs so much into its two hours of playing time, revealing so much about the human psyche. There are those who disagree with me, who think that the structure is weak- that the second half of the play breaks or undermines the momentum of the narrative right about the time most tragedies are nearing the climax of the action. Heck, Shakespeare even inserts three long scenes between characters who are not Macbeth, one that is ten minutes long and that includes no death or mayhem.
But, to me, that is part of the power of the play. In the first half we see a “good” person seduced by the idea of power and status, and we watch as he justifies his own moral decay along with some incredibly despicable actions to achieve power. In the second half, we see how actions affect others, how one person’s actions and desires can influence and change the lives of others for better, or, in this case, much worse. And then we watch as people of all walks decide to act for the good, even in the face of the same challenges that beset the tyrant. Oh, and there are sword fights.
This is also the first time I’ve co-directed with someone. Lori-Ann and I have worked together for a long time, as actor/director, director/stage manager/actor/actor, and we work well together. I think that we both complement each other and fill in each other’s gaps. It’s been a wonderful collaboration. It is a fairly well-known theatrical fact that there are usually more women than men who audition for plays – at least two to one. And that Shakespeare, because he wrote in a time that women were not allowed on stage, wrote plays with no more than three women (maybe four, once in a while). We both also wanted to find a way to include as many of the people who auditioned for us (In fact, we were able to cast pretty much everyone who auditioned for us and that has been exciting). So, we looked at a time that could incorporate more women as warriors, and that would also be a time that included the possibilities of witches existing. And we settled on Scotland’s semi-mythical past at the moment they kicked the Vikings out of their country. That way we were able to work with many more women and put together the strongest cast possible. We trust you’ll see why.
We have twenty-nine people in the cast and a large crew, a veritable town of people to tell the story of Macbeth, who probably lived in Scotland in the 11th century, and also probably should have become king because he was the strongest and most successful warrior. And I, we, sincerely hope that you enjoy your journey with us into the heart of darkness that is the “Tragedy of Macbeth.”
Holly Nicola (Witch Team 6/King)
Becoming involved in 2014, after retirement, in theater with Sacramento City College, Holly has since been cast in 12 of its major productions. twice before in its Shakespeare Festival, in The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. Her first experience in Cannery Row got her hooked! Holly enjoys minor roles and being part of the ensemble. Other productions in which she has been cast include The Great Gatsby, The Music Man, Carrie – the Musical, Miracle on 34th Street and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime and two British pantos, Alice in Wonderland and Snow White. Her involvement has increased her appreciation of theater, due to becoming more aware of all the hard work that goes on not only on the stage, but also behind the scenes.
Ollie Stokes is a new student at Sac City College, studying theatre. They have previously been in shows such as Carrie the Musical and Much Ado About Nothing at Butte College.
Joy returns to the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival from Michigan, where she spent several years building a children’s community theater program. Performing on stage is a rare experience for Joy, who is usually listed in programs as a stage manager or technician. Joy is also a novelist, journalist, and playwright whose stage and screenplays have won awards locally and internationally.
Brandon is elated to appear in Sacramento Shakespeare’s production of Macbeth. Brandon is a proud Alumnus of the Acting Apprenticeship Program at Capital Stage, where he appeared in the company’s production of Good People by David Lindsay-Abaire, and various other roles. Previous credits also include The MotherF**cker With The Hat(Big Idea Theatre), Brilliant Traces (Ovation Stage), The Grapes of Wrath, and Julius Caesar(Sacramento Theatre Company).
Sarah is grateful to be on stage at the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival again. Most recently seen as Mr. Shepherd/Mrs. Croft in BEYOND PERSUASION, she also enjoyed performances as Horatio in SSF’S production of HAMLET and Gertrude in Sac State’s production of the same.
This is Cuautli’s first show with SSF and is excited about the opportunity. Cuautli mostly has been performing with Falcons Eye Theater most notably in 𝘔𝘪𝘥𝘴𝘶𝘮𝘮𝘦𝘳 𝘕𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵’𝘴 𝘋𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮 where they played Puck and recently 𝘈𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘨𝘰𝘯𝘦 where they were part of the chorus. Cuautli plans to continue studying acting at ARC to work towards becoming a professional actor in the future.
Dennis started in theatre taking courses at the University of Hawaii and later the University of Montana. After a long break he returned to performing in his first show with City Theatre, the 2013 production of After Juliet. Since then he has been active with both City Theater and the Sacramento Shakespeare festival productions of Much Ado About Nothing, The Uninvited, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, Henry V, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.
Lauren is making her Sacramento Shakespeare Festival debut. She is elated to be back at Sacramento City College where she recently performed as Segismundo in Life is a Dream and Rose Red in Snow White: A British Panto. You may have also seen her at the B Street Theatre in the 24 Hour Play Festival’s Norwegian Death Cleaning. Lauren is grateful to be working with Christine and Luther again and with Lori-Ann for the first time- I appreciate your kindness, vision, and leadership. Lauren would also like to thank the Devised Artist Julianna, the Fight Choreographer Dave, the Costume Designer Nicole and her team, and a resounding thank you to our stage managers Hannah and Erika! Above all, Lauren is thankful to her support system of family, friends, and coworkers who make it possible for her to continue to hone her acting skills and pursue her passion for theater arts.
McKenna is thrilled to be a part of yet another Shakespeare production. She graduated from Sacramento State last spring with a BA in Theatre and has long dreamed of finding a career in acting and teaching. After directing the department’s senior production of Spring Awakening (1906), McKenna plans on pursuing directing as well. Favorite performances include Hamlet (Hamlet, Sacramento State), Bev/Kathy (Clybourne Park, Solano College Theatre) Lady Macbeth (Macbeth, Solano College Theatre), and Christopher Boone (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, Solano College Theatre). While theatre is her passion, McKenna has also acted in several short films. She hopes you enjoy the witchy business, and does not apologize for spooking you.
Petra has been acting in plays for a year now. You have seen her in ROMEO AND JULIET, as Head Guard in LIFE IS A DREAM, as Prince Charming in SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DUDES, and as Captain Harville and Charles Hayter in BEYOND PERSUASION. She also house managed for THE ALCHEMIST.
Jim is jumping back into acting after a decade’s hiatus. This is his 2nd show in 2023, after performing in Clue with Village Stage Productions in Elk Grove. He previously studied theater in high school and college, with roles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and West Side Story. His impossible dream is to write, direct, and/or perform in a movie that is one day labeled “classic” by film snobs like himself.
Shelby Elizabeth Saumier is overjoyed to be returning to the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival. Previous acting credits include: Anne Elliot in BEYOND PERSUASION (City Theatre), title role in HENRY V (SSF), Florinda in THE ROVER (Big Idea Theatre), Narrator/Engineer/Ensemble in STORIES TO BE TOLD (CSUS), Elinor Dashwood in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (City Theatre), Phantom in THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW (Green Valley Theatre), Jane Bennet in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (City Theatre), Yvonne Chandel in A FLEA IN HER EAR (ARC), Claudio in MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Wildflower Ensemble), and Sandrine/Glory/Hope in ALMOST, MAINE (CSUS). Shelby proudly attended Sacramento State University, where she received her BA in theatre, her teaching credential, and her MA in teaching. Shelby would not be where she is today without the love and support of her friends, family, and life partner Reilly.
Bethany is an actor/singer/dancer from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. A 2021 graduate of CSU Sacramento, she has previously worked with director Christine Nicholson on The Bald Soprano. She was most recently in Matriarchy Theatre’s production of Quantum directed by Nicole C. Limón and before that with Green Valley Theatre Company in The Rocky Horror Show as Janet. She’d like to thank her friends for being stinky and remind her family to RWYA. May the melancholy god protect thee✌.
This is Tim’s sixth production with the Shakespeare Festival. Previous plays and roles include Twelfth Night (Sir Andrew Aguecheek), Love’s Labour’s Lost (King Ferdinand), Othello (Brabantio), Measure for Measure (Provost), and The Merry Wives of W345indsor (Master Page). He was most recently seen as Master Lovewit in City Theatre’s The Alchemist. He has a B.A. in Theater Arts from U.C. Santa Cruz (1974). He is a retired elementary teacher who worked at Leonardo da Vinci School where the arts are integrated throughout the curriculum.
Angie relocated to Sacramento California from Colorado just a couple of years ago. She is excited & thrilled to return to the theater after so many years away from the theater world as her life focus was on raising 3 children, obtaining master’s degree, and full time career as a Speech Language Pathology. She did use theater during in her position as a speech therapist at the Colorado mental hospital – wrote and directed plays to help patient’s improve their lives.
by Christine Nicholson
I love directing. I love being at the helm of the huge collaboration that comes together to create a theatrical production. I love working with others to bring to life the ever-continuing stories of humans – comedies, tragedies, farces, political thrillers, musicals, pantos – all the genres of storytelling that have been developed over the millennia. I love the challenge of bringing into life words that began as thoughts and images in the mind or minds of a person or persons, of working with others (in the case of this year’s Macbeth, over 40 others) to create order out of chaos, and to share that story with others. And what I love about theatre, and what is unique to it, is that it is a shared art form: those who are making the art do not exist without those who witness it in a shared moment in time. This is the essence of storytelling – whether that be ghost stories around a fire, small intimate theatres, big Broadway venues, or 5,000 people watching a huge musical extravaganza at an old Roman Arena.
But I especially love telling Shakespeare’s stories. I am always amazed how words written over four hundred years ago can still capture, beautifully capture, what I think of as the stories of humanity. Yes, he wrote about people from another time, who lived, and thought differently in many ways than we do today. And yes, he was a product of his time, with the blinders that come with it, as they do with all moments in time. But we still wrestle with how to find love and how to keep it strong, how to find and keep a healthy society, and how to harness our desires for power and status. And that is why plays like “Romeo and Juliet,” A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Twelfth Night,” Hamlet,” and yes, “Macbeth,” continue to be produced, reimagined, and relevant. And it is absolutely fascinating to me how his plays re-emerge and resonate at different times in history. “Macbeth’s” dive into the heart of the desire for power, and the pull that power has on the human psyche seems to be more profound than ever.
This year, as the theatre continues to recover from near annihilation during the covid pandemic (how can something exist when it is, by definition, a place where humanity gathers and the very act of gathering together was life-threatening), the Shakespeare Festival like many others, facing a budget shortfall, decided to produce only one production, rather than our usual two. We wanted to keep both of our summer directors employed, so we thought it was an excellent opportunity to try co-directing (I had recently performed in a production of Twelfth Night at Big idea Theatre where we had co-directors, Kevin Adamski and Leah Daugherty, whose collaboration showed how two minds can achieve so much more than one). We also decided that as we rebuild our audience, maybe we could create an opportunity to produce in our more intimate performance space, and what better vehicle than “Macbeth.”
Working in the intimacy of a thrust theatre is always a wonderful challenge. When we produced both outside in the park and in the 600-seat proscenium theatre, we had to stage our shows more like a moving painting – Actors need to face the audience for most of the staging, more two-dimensionally. But in a thrust theatre, with the audience on three sides of the stage, it is more like a moving sculpture, three-dimensional. And we need to be able to choreograph the movement so that audiences will see most of the action all the time. If we stage it conventionally, like a painting, like a proscenium production, only those in front of the actors will see the action. It’s much more of a dance. And that’s its appeal to a director. We need to keep the story activated, and with co-directors, we can view the staging from two sides simultaneously and see where we can improve the storytelling with staging.
So, both Lori Ann and I jumped at the opportunity to work together. We’ve worked together for almost twenty years in many capacities, but this was our first opportunity to collaborate as directors. We each bring complementary skills to the table and celebrate each other’s skills. We wanted to find a time where this story could exist, where witches or connections to the supernatural or natural forces were honored, where women could exist as warriors, and where ambition and desire for power could take hold and corrupt. We also wanted to appeal to a large population of actors and audiences. We had more actors audition than we’ve seen in five years. And we have a cast of thirty and a crew of around ten. And hopefully, this production will appeal to a large audience.
We’ve been working for five weeks now. Lori Ann has gathered all of the sound we are using, all of the weapons, worked with our Movement Coordinator with our witches (all 12 of them), our stage managers have been recording everything, staging, prop lists, costume changes, back-stage traffic patterns, while I have worked with our fight choreographer and with staging on a stage with audience on three sides. We put all that together last week, and this week we are adding lights and costumes. Three more rehearsals. Then we add the last piece of the collaboration, the audience. We can’t wait.
by Kathleen Poe
Let me begin by saying that it is always a pleasure to work on Shakespeare. Whether it is the timeless nature of his stories or the delicious taste of his words dripping off my tongue, I have had a lifelong love affair with the Bard.
Specifically, this play. Macbeth.
We read it aloud in my 10th-grade English class. I can still remember reading the part of Banquo and falling in desperate love with the story, the characters, the themes, the verse – all of it. We delighted in the Witches and their super-rad (to coin a term from high school) prophecy, we marveled at the wild, audacious ambition of the Macbeths, and we cheered for the miracles of nature that bring the story to its unexpected conclusion.
We laughed at “I am slain”, as you do. To be honest, I’m still laughing at it. The ridiculousness of announcing one’s own death never ceases to send me into a fit of giggles.
(Side note: as I am now a veteran of dying a Shakespearean death, I far prefer, “Thou hast slain me”. It just hits differently.)
I spent my late teenage years obsessed with The Scottish Play. During my junior year, in my English class, we were asked to write a diary of a famous person, and I chose Macbeth. That summer, I spent my babysitting money to go see a production of Macbeth at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. It was amazing. They performed it in the round, and I was up close and personal. The Witches pounded thick ropes on the stage while giving their prophecies, and one of them ended up in my lap (the ropes, not the Witches). Mac and Lady M swapped an outrageous amount of spit. I was even more enthralled. How could I not be enthralled? I promise it wasn’t because of the spit.
In college, I took a Shakespeare class that only fueled my fire. Not only did I passionately love Macbeth, but now that adoration stretched to King Lear, Henry V, and Richard II (it took longer for me to love Hamlet, to be honest, but now I do, with all my heart).
When I first started doing Shakespeare on the stage, about eleven years ago, I couldn’t believe that I got to speak those words, and actual people would come to see and hear me do it. I also couldn’t get enough. I’ve now done 18 Shakespeare plays. Yes, 18.
Including my favorite – Macbeth.
But, strangely, up to this summer, I’ve never been able to participate in a fully staged, full-scale production of Macbeth.
My first experience was in a staged reading that we performed on Halloween. I read the role of the First Witch, and I couldn’t believe that I got to speak those words – “Double, double, toil and trouble”. That experience kept my Macbeth fire blazing.
A few years later came two nights as Macduff and the Second Witch, as part of our all-female Wildflower Women’s Ensemble. We performed in a park in midtown, with minimal staging, surrounded by traffic noises, beer bikes, and live, amplified, tonally suspect covers of Beatles tunes blaring from the café across the street. Despite the less-than-ideal circumstances, it was a wonderful experience. I dearly loved playing Macduff and hoped for another chance at the role.
I got another crack a few years later, during the pandemic, when we put together an online version of The Scottish Play, complete with online sword choreography. It was an optimistic idea that didn’t quite work, but we gave it a good try. Whatever the case, it kept me in contact with my most cherished of all Shakespeare plays.
And now, here we are – the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival 2023. Macbeth, Macduff, we meet again…
When we first started our tech run-through on Saturday, some of us were dancing around backstage, almost giddy with excitement, as we saw the world that we’ve been working so hard to create begin to take a more complete and vibrant visual form.
Good grief – the colors are going to be spectacular (and I’m not just talking about the vivid bruises on my arms from sword battles and stage combat)!
I am floored by the talent involved in this project, both offstage and on. It is such a thrill to be a part of it, and to share the stage with such amazing, hard-working actors. How lucky I am.
In a way, this is some intense full-circle stuff for me. It is my lifetime obsession come to fruition.
And I can’t freakin’ wait for everyone to see it.