The Scottish play: An interpretation in dance
Luther’s Movement Fundamentals III dance course has created an original dance production inspired by one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.
Attendees of “A Tragedy like Macbeth” can expect an integrated and collaborative production.
Professor of English Mark Muggli created the show’s dramaturgy. This production was part of his two-year-long series “Our Shakespeare” after being named the 2011-2013 Jones Humanities Professor. Muggli was inspired to create a dance production after his own personal experience and enjoyment with dance performance.
Jayne Cole / Chips
“I thought a dance based on ‘Macbeth’ could be a powerful piece,” Muggli said. “It has a lot of imagery that lends itself to bodily images.”
Muggli developed a script containing only 300 lines out of the 2500 lines in the original text to help build a ten scene production, set in medieval times.
“I tried to retain the overall arc of the play,” Muggli said. “I thought of the play structurally. What is at its bare bones, is a story about human beings and making choices. What text do I need to convey that?”
Professor of Dance Jane Hawley (‘87) was then asked by Muggli to choreograph the visual and textual performance.
“It was a daunting task, finding a way to hone in on a magnificent piece of literature and create an abstract representation of the story,” Hawley said.
Hawley describes her creation as “specific movement vocabulary based on images.” One example would be the first scene, which includes images of a forest, witches and spirits to tell the prophecy of Macbeth.
“I don’t understand how the audience wouldn’t get chills,” cast member Travis Nietert (‘15) said.
Auditions for the performance took place last spring and early this fall.
“The cast is intelligent and creative,” Hawley said. “Critical thinking and creative expression abound.”
The students of the Movement Fundamentals III course composed a dance that exhibits elements and concepts from the show in a thirty-minute pre-performance installation. This will be performed by the cast’s seven first year students.
Jayne Cole / Chips
Associate Professor of Theatre, Lisa Lantz was the designer behind the show’s medieval silhouette, and Theatre and Dance Technical Director, Tom Berger created the set to capture a different focus in each scene. Professor of Theatre, Jeff Dintaman is the lighting designer.
Kelly Harris (‘15) is the stage manager, David Mendez (‘14) is the assistant choreographer and Dylan Carlson (‘14) composed much of the show’s music.
“Everything is collaborative faculty student research,” Hawley said. “Students research as well as create.”
Colleen Oster (‘14), who plays Lady Macbeth, thinks that performing “Macbeth” as a dance production helps her understand the play more holistically.
“One of the ideas is that the characters represent every person, so we try to allow the audience to identify with each character,” Oster said.
Nietert plays the show’s namesake in the production. He says the audience can expect softness amid the bloodshed as the play transitions between ideas of spirits, war and love.
“The movements are sharp and kind of jagged and warlike, but at the same time have their beauty and grace,” Neitert said.
Audience members do not necessarily need to have read “Macbeth” to understand the story’s message.
“I hope that we do not pinpoint victim and villain, but that we can relate to the human struggle between power and wisdom,” Hawley said. “By the time we are done watching, we are not happy that Macbeth died, but instead saddened by our own understanding.”
“A Tragedy like Macbeth”will run from Nov. 9 - Nov. 17 in Jewel Theatre. Performances begin at 7:30, but audience members are encouraged to arrive at 7:00 to view a pre-performance held in the atrium. The Sunday, Nov. 17 production will begin at 1:30 p.m., pre-performance at 1:00 p.m.
Tickets may be purchased in the box office.