Theater Emory's 'Macbeth' shows 'terrifying proximity to our own bones'

By Emma Yarbrough | Emory Report | Nov. 12, 2013

For Theater Emory's upcoming production of "Macbeth," director Clinton Wade Thornton has set out to throw new light on the dark psychology of this William Shakespeare classic, spearheading an exploration into the desperate wants that drive bloody acts and how these desires resonate with a modern audience.  

"I marvel at the artistry of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' for a multitude of reasons," explains Thornton, "the verse, the imagery, the sanguine language that seeps the play, the characters crafted in such horrifying definition – but ultimately, I believe the reason that I and most audiences gravitate toward the story is its terrifying proximity to our own bones."  

To re-contextualize Shakespeare's tragedy of ambition for today's audience, Theater Emory's production unfolds in a timeless world that combines raw Scottish history with modern technology.  

"How can a classic drama that plays with the idea of traditional 'realms' relate to a modern audience that currently exists within an ever expanding digital, virtual framework?" asks Thornton. "Are the technological forces which now control more and more of our experience edifying or corrupting? Is this how we conjure, has technology become our day-to-day witchcraft?"  

With music direction by composer Bryan Mercer, a cast and crew made up of both professionals and students, and local theater performer and director Thornton at the helm, Theater Emory's "Macbeth" exemplifies a commitment to introducing students to the Atlanta arts community at-large.  

"Theater Emory is focused on collaborating with members of the Atlanta arts community so that our students are exposed to fresh perspectives and approaches to making theater and to our most original practitioners," explains Artistic Director Janice Akers. "Clint's exciting, contemporary and technological look at one of Shakespeare's best known plays seemed like a good match for our adventurous, innovative students."  

For the production, co-set designers Sara Culpepper and student Michael Lewis have created a timelessly militaristic environment with lighting and sound design by Brent Glenn and projections from Rob Dillard providing elements of digital mysticism.  

Professional actors in the cast include Robin Bloodworth, Evan Cleaver, Brian Kurlander, Bryan Mercer, Tiffany Denise Mitchenor and Frank Roberts with choreography by Ricardo Aponte, fight choreography by John Ammerman, and costumes by Alan Yeong.