Macbeth: nach Shakespeare [2011]

May 20-29, 2011

Performance Works, Granville Island
Vancouver, BC

A darkly comic revision of Shakespeare’s classic

What happens when a radical East German dramatist deconstructs one of the world’s greatest plays? A killer rip-your-guts-out piece of theatre — along with some stage time for the blue-collar types that the Bard ignored.

Funnier, darker and bloodier than the original, Heiner Müller’s adaptation fuses contemporary politics and layers of class conflict with the age-old story of state terror and avarice. Riddled with dark humour and an ecstasy of horrors of modern proportions, this twisted tragicomedy drives home the idea that “murder is cheap”.

Co-producers Theatre Conspiracy and GasHeart Theatre achieved a major coup in bringing the World English Premiere of ground-breaking German dramatist Heiner Müller’s brilliant work Macbeth: After Shakespeare to Vancouver. Often acclaimed as Bertolt Brecht’s successor, Heiner Müller is regarded as one of the most important European dramatists of the 20th century, having had a profound impact on German theatre, and theatre worldwide. Müller is known for his Shakespeare adaptations, including Anatomy of Titus, Fall of Rome (Titus Andronicus, 1985), and Hamletmachine (1977).

Theatre Conspiracy and GasHeart Theatre commissioned Müller’s former colleague, Stanford University professor Carl Weber, to translate Müller’s Macbeth: After Shakespeare into English for the first time. Translator Carl Weber worked with both Müller and Bertolt Brecht at the Berliner Ensemble theatre company, translated many of Müller’s plays into English and has written extensively on Müller’s work.

The production was directed by Quinn Harris and featured Michael Scholar, Jr., best known for his roles in November Theatre’s The Black Rider and Hard Core Logo: LIVE, as Macbeth; and Jennifer Mawhinney, renowned for her award-winning role in the Conspiracy/Rumble production Blackbird, as Lady Macbeth. Performing in multiple roles were Sarah Afful, David Bloom, Josh Drebit, Courtney Lancaster, Kevin Kraussler, Anthony F. Ingram and Evelyn Chew.

The design team included Flick Harrison (media/video), Jergus Oprsal (lighting and set design), Emma Hendrix (sound design) and Shawna Picken (costumes). Jack Paterson joined us as dramaturg and Robin Richardson as stage manager.

Macbeth: After Shakespeare was the latest initiative in Theatre Conspiracy’s Envoys Series to investigate world drama in translation. GasHeart Theatre was co-founded by James Foy and Quinn Harris, who were artists-in-residence with Conspiracy. Their work includes The Mechanical Bride (2008 Victoria and Vancouver Fringe); an adaptation of Tristan Tzara’s The Gas Heart (Vancouver Fringe 2009; Neanderthal Festival 2011); and NAPathy (co-created with Conspiracy at HIVE 3).