Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2012 10:15 am | Updated: 10:51 am, Tue Jul 10, 2012.
By NANCY BURNS-FUSARO / Sun Staff Writer
For Emily Trask, playing Lady Macbeth this summer in the Colonial Theater’ s production of “Macbeth” is rewarding on a number of levels.
First, says the Yale School of Drama grad, assuming the role of one of Shakespeare’s most manipulative women is something she’s been hoping to accomplish for some time.
“It has been on my bucket list,” says Trask, a lithe redheaded Midwesterner who’s acted with the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre and who has played the parts of Ophelia and Portia.
“Playing such an iconic role is humbling,” she says. “It’s a gift.”
There’s also the open-air stage.
“I secretly love being outdoors,” she laughs. “It’s actually amazing to have a line where you talk to the moon and you look up and see the moon and to have actual trees for Birnham Wood.
And there’s her leading man, and the show’s director.
“I feel very lucky,” adds Trask. “Lucky to work with Harland and lucky to be working with Mark.”
Harland, of course, is Harland Meltzer, the Colonial Theatre’s producing artistic director returning to direct his 21st season of Shakespeare-in-the-Park.
Mark is Mark Corkins, who plays Macbeth, a member of the Hilberry Repertory Company in Detroit.
And while Trask and Corkins have actually shared the stage a number of times — Corkins was also a member of The Milwaukee Repertory Theatre — this is their first time playing opposite one another in lead roles.
Corkins, who has played the part of Macbeth before in Milwaukee, echoes his leading lady, adding that he finds the venue, with its summer sky and abundance of trees, an added benefit and very fitting for this play.
“There are so many images about night and nature,” he says.
Corkins also says he’s curious to see how “free Shakespeare” plays out.
“I’m excited to see what a nonpaying audience will make of it,” he says, “I’m curious to see if we’ll be compelling enough to grab people’s attention.”
As far as his role as Macbeth, the character drama critic Christopher Isherwood describes as a man with a “divided nature, torn between ambition and honor, blood lust and guilt,” Corkins says he finds both the play and his role “infinitely interesting.”
“The more I read the more interesting it becomes,” he says.
“Macbeth may be a tragic hero,” he says, “but it’s hard to feel sorry for him — it’s not like Lear or Othello — it’s hard to find the humanity in him — I think we see our similarities and become appalled at our own identification with him.”
Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, one of King Duncan’s greatest war captains, returns from battle and encounters three witches in Birnham Wood (we all remember “double, double, toil and trouble.”)
A prophecy is given to them: Macbeth is hailed as Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and King; Banquo is hailed as the father of kings to come.
Both men nervously laugh off the prophecies until Lady Macbeth steps in.
“Harland seems to know this play very thoroughly and deeply,” says Corkins.
“One of the wise things to do is to cast smart people,” laughs Meltzer. “Aside from talent, smart is important.”
Some of the other “smart” cast members returning to the Colonial’s Shakespeare-in-the-Park this year are Marion Markham who’ll have dual roles as Witch 1 and Lady Macduff; Ed Franklin as the doctor and Duncan; Enrique Bravo as Banquo and Seyton; Jamie Dufault as Malcolm, and Paul Romero as Ross and Porter. Veteran child actor Dylan Temel will play the role of Macduff’s son and Fleance.
Meltzer and the actors are sitting in the shade of a large, leafy tree near the park’s goldfish pond, taking a lunch break and going over the scene they had just rehearsed. The stage crew is busy building the stage on one side and two young fathers are playing whiffle ball with their young sons on another.
Shortly before the break, a small band of teenagers paused, mesmerized as they watched the play, whose program promises to “transport you in time and place as mystery and magic, action-packed battle, tragic loss and triumphant revenge take center stage.”
“That’s awesome,” shouted one of the teens when the scene — involving Lady Macbeth screaming and hurling chairs — came to an end.
The Colonial Theater’s production of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth marks the company’s 21st season of free Shakespeare in the Park. The play opens July 11, and closes July 29 with performances Tuesdays through Sundays at 8 p.m.