Witches will take center stage in WAVE Productions’ ‘Macbeth’


Photo courtesy of Kayla Cohen

WAVE Productions will put on “Macbeth” Friday and Saturday.

Divya Bhardwaj, Senior Staffer

WAVE Productions’ take on Shakespeare’s classic “Macbeth” brings the play’s oft-overlooked yet omnipresent witches and women to the forefront. 

WAVE will present its rendition of “Macbeth” in the intimate Shanley Pavilion this Friday at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. By emphasizing movement and reinventing the roles of women characters, the cast, production team and rehearsal room team are aiming to bring a fresh perspective to a centuries-old classic. 

“There’s this through-line of Lady Macbeth and the witches, and the ties they have to motherhood and femininity, as something that’s witnessing and observing Macbeth using violence as the only answer or going insane,” Director and Communication sophomore Julie Monteleone said.

The three witches take on an unprecedented role as representations of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s children. The play alludes to the Macbeths’ miscarriages or stillbirths, and Monteleone imagines the witches as incarnations of their lost children. 

Though the witches and their prophecies are central to the play’s plot, traditional performances leave them offstage for many pivotal moments and soliloquies. 

“They’ve been added to a lot of scenes that they’re not normally in, doing movement and dance to keep the idea that they’re really overlooking the entire play and the entire story,” Monteleone said. 

While the dramatic plotting, scheming and violence of the male characters commands most of the play’s plot, WAVE’s rendition also highlights the strength of Lady Macbeth. 

Monteleone said a key distinction is that Lady Macbeth is strong because she is a woman — not despite.

“In order to be strong, the women in Shakespeare often have to give up their femininity,” Monteleone said. “We’re really trying to hold on to her womanhood being what is powerful about her and what gives her the strength that she needs to do all the things that she does.” 

Throughout the play, movement is central, whether it be the witches’ fluidity, Lady Macbeth’s grace, Banquo’s discipline or Macbeth’s propriety, and later fitful passion. 

When performing a storied play like “Macbeth,” actors said they worked to bring their own interpretations to the character while staying true to the classic. 

“It’s like a puzzle to me,” Communication junior and actor Robbie Matthew said. “The blocking and actions written into the text unlock the code.”

Monteleone described herself as a movement-centered director. The production’s auditory elements also lend themselves to the overall expression of a typically text-heavy play, she said. 

Many of the actors are also dancers, which has lent to the fluid movement throughout the play, Monteleone added.

“There are some dance and music moments that are really cool,” Producer and Communication sophomore Steven Johnson said. “I’m super excited for everyone to see this different view of Shakespeare.”

Though fraught courtly alliances, volatile kingdoms, casual murder and prophetic witches may not be present in today’s world, some key messages in “Macbeth” remain evergreen.

The play’s political undertones are especially relevant today, Johnson said.

“The themes of power and corruption, as well as gender, relate to our society both on a large scale, and also at Northwestern,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen a lot of corrupt people in positions of power, so I think it’s a good story to put on that shows corrupt people in those positions of power being taken down.”

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