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The mind of evil examined

“By the pricking of my thumbs

Something wicked this way comes.”

– Macbeth



As timeless as Shakespeare’s plays remain, some are even more relevant today.

“Given the horrors of the 20th century and more recently, I felt `Macbeth’ relly speaks to that,” said Lon Winston, artistic director of the Thunder River Theatre Co.



He is especially fascinated with “the evil mind” of the characters portrayed in the play.

“The kernel is in everybody – retribution, vindictiveness – but there is also intelligence and sanity,” he added.

Winston’s TRCT presents “Macbeth,” one of Shakespeare’s most well loved tragedies for its commentary on our times, on Oct. 25-27 and Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus. Curtain times are 7:30 p.m., except Sunday at 6 p.m.

What is it that drives a person wholly into their dark side? This is the theme Winston explores in his presentation of the play.

Shakespeare’s tragedies, especially “Macbeth,” “King Lear,” “Hamlet” and “Othello,” are “rooted in moral decision,” Winston said.

Written in either 1606 or 1607, “Macbeth” is the last of Shakespeare’s four great tragedies, and it is considered by many scholars to be his darkest work.

It is a story of Macbeth’s bloody rise to power, foretold by three witches who appear in the first scene of the play. Partly on the witches’ prophesy and partly because of his own ambition to rule Scotland, Macbeth murders King Duncan.

Although he hesitates at first to do the bloody deed, he is goaded along by Lady Macbeth, whose own ambition for power

Macbeth: Continued on page B5

leads her down the dark road toward witchcraft and magic.

Winston takes a different path than the usual inexorable decline of the Macbeths as a foretold doom.

“I chose … a juxtaposition of ancient and modern images,” he said. He focuses on the predestination suggested by the witches’ prophesy, and the human psychology behind the actions of Macbeth and his Lady, blending the themes of fate and free will.

“It creates a wonderful theatricality and helps make it resonant with the audience,” he added.

“Bringing `Macbeth’ to the stage is phenomenally complex,” Winston explained. “There is so much in this play that can be taken for granted and left to arbitrariness. It is easy to get caught up in minimizing Macbeth’s choices. He makes his own choices and suffers the consequences. Because the witches, or Weird Sisters, have been overly emphasized for 400 years, we have come to accept that Macbeth does what he does because the witches make it happen.’

“Witchcraft and the supernatural were important to the audiences in the 1600s, not the psychology of the perpetrators,” Winston said. “With the evil in all of us, we conjure the witches, they don’t conjure us. It really is about who we want to blame, about the evil choices we make.

“I want to create an environment that opens up the play in a unique way,” he said.

As director and set designer, Winston creates the world of the play.

He researched the historical context, Great Britain in a time of tribal clans and Norwegian invaders, and suggests those contexts in his costuming with masks and primitive weapons.

In all, 12 actors play 40 roles. Valerie Haugen, TRTC’s associate artist, plays both Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff.

The production features Jeff Carlson and Haugen as the diabolical couple.

One important aspect of this production is bringing Colorado Mountain College students into a production where they can work with experienced theatre practitioners. In the future, both Winston and Cochran are hoping that CMC students working on TRTC productions will receive theatre credit for special studies.

Other familiar faces in the ensemble, playing multiple roles are CMC’s Tom Cochran, Michael Miller of TRTC and Ryan Fleming.

The rest of the ensemble includes Phill Gerdel, Patrick Murray, Gerald DeLisser and Emily Cochran.

Playing the Weird Sisters are local veteran Chip Wells, Lana Karp and Genevieve Taylor.

April Fleming and Lauren Byrnes will be working backstage. Susan Lau is the stage manager. Judy Benson is prop master, with help from Susan Hakanson and Kelley Mauldin.

General admission ticket prices are $15 for adults and $8 for students; $13 for Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities members, CMC faculty and staff, and $6 for CMC students.

A special $5 matinee for high school students at 1 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, is almost sold out. For reservations, call the CMC Theater office at 947-8252.

“Out, out brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.”

Macbeth


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