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Northwest students practice stage fighting in a rehearsal for Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The play takes the stage April 11-14 at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. (Submitted photo)

Northwest students practice stage fighting in a rehearsal for Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” The play takes the stage April 11-14 at the Ron Houston Center for the Performing Arts. (Submitted photo)

April 5, 2019

Northwest to present Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ April 11-14

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Listen to Sierra Coleman, who portrays Lady Macbeth, and Jamie Thygesen, the assistant stage manager, discuss their work with Theatre Northwest's production of "Macbeth" on the KFEQ Hotline with Barry Birr.

Northwest Missouri State University’s Department of Fine and Performing Arts will present one of William Shakespeare’s most popular plays, “Macbeth,” April 11-14 as the final production of Theatre Northwest’s 2018-2019 season.

Witches, ghosts, war and murder take the stage in the story of betrayal and ambition, which is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy as well as one of his bloodiest and most intriguing psychological dramas.

In it, Macbeth – the Thane of Cawdor and a respected, decorated military general – unexpectedly encounters three malevolent soothsayers, on the eve of his latest battle victory, who claim he will be king. Manipulated by the insistent urging of his devious wife, Macbeth succumbs to temptation and attempts to make the prophecy come true, committing darker and darker acts of evil. 

For Katheryn Bilbo, artistic director and assistant professor of theatre, staging the play at Northwest fulfils a wish she has had since joining the University faculty in 2014. “Macbeth” is her favorite Shakespearean play and she notes it has been consistently staged for 400 years.

“It is the only Shakespearian play to have a sympathetic criminal as the protagonist,” Bilbo said. “That’s not to say we agree with what Macbeth does. He does a lot of terrible things, but unlike Richard III who is the other criminal protagonist, Macbeth makes a bad decision and then we watch how it slowly destroys him emotionally. So he’s not just evil. He’s thoroughly changed by what happens throughout the play.”

A cast of 25 actors appear in the production, in which nearly every student in Northwest’s theatre program has a hand – from set design and costuming to stage management. The cast features Alex Whittington, a sophomore speech and theatre education major from Pleasant Hill, Missouri, as Macbeth; Sierra Coleman, a senior speech and theatre education major from Perry, Iowa, as Lady Macbeth; and Remy Lupo, a sophomore speech and theatre education major from Omaha, Nebraska, as Macduff.

The production also is notable for its stage combat, and the Northwest version will take on a cinematic feel with a slanted stage and music to supplement the action.  

“In some ways it might feel sort of film-like because there will be music that plays underneath people’s lines at times,” Bilbo said. “I think it will be a slightly different experience in terms of watching a play and there will be special effects. There will be lots of stage combat, lots of fighting.”

Actors have perfected the play’s combat scenes with the guidance of Bart Williams, a stage combat instructor at Southeast Missouri State University who spent several weekends at Northwest to lead workshops and choreograph the fighting. He instructed the students about the fundamentals of stage fighting and how to do it safely, creating an illusion that engages their audience.

“This group of students is getting a great perk by being in the play because these are skills that they could use,” Bilbo said. “At any time professionally, they could get cast in a show that has violence in it and if they are familiar with the basics of that, then whomever is directing is going to be pleased that they don’t have to start from scratch.”

Show times are 7:30 p.m. April 11-13, and 2 p.m. Sunday, April 14, in the Mary Linn Auditorium at the Ron Houston Center for Performing Arts.

Tickets are $10 and may be purchased at the cashiering office on the first floor of the Administration Building between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday or at the door of the Ron Houston Center, beginning one hour before the show. Tickets also may be reserved by calling 660.562.1321.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215