Jekka Mack and Christina Penhale of exitStageLeft Productions had planned to do a Macbeth show in the fall of 2020, when Halloween fell on a Saturday night with a full moon to boot.
For obvious reasons, that didn’t happen, but the two women and others involved with their theatre company, such as director and Shakespeare expert Jeffrey Renn, felt a production of the play was more timely than ever.
“The show is about a man who gets corrupted by power,” said Penhale. “And that’s something that we’re seeing in our world. And he follows that drive to power to not great ends. So we just felt it was timely to do this piece. It’s also just such a great piece and to do it at Halloween is even more exciting and enticing because it has all of the Wyrd Sisters and the ghosts.”
Macbeth opens this Friday, Oct. 28, continuing nightly through Oct. 31. The first three shows are at 7:30 p.m., but the Halloween edition begins at 9 p.m. The final three shows are on Nov. 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m.
While Mack and Penhale don’t want to give anything away, they promise an extra-special atmosphere that will immerse audiences in the drama.
“It’s going to be a very sort of ethereal, mystical, very different sort of piece than we’ve ever done before,” said Penhale.
The show’s crew have gone above and beyond in the set, effects, props and costume departments, and the team couldn’t be happier with how things have come together.
“We’re also really leaning into the ghosts and we’ve got some pagan Norse chanting, and of course being us we’ve added songs, so there’s incantation-conjuring darkness and we’re really leaning into the Halloween aspect of it all,” said Mack.
It’s not that the play has been made into a musical, but “there’s music that enhances what’s happening in the scenes,” she said.
They are thrilled with contributions of Vancouver-based musicians Jaya Story and Dominik Vladulovic, who are the show’s music directors.
“It’s going to be quite the audio experience,” added Penhale.
They are also excited to be in the Farmers’ Institute space.
“We’ve never done anything there before,” said Mack. “I think it’s a really cool space and I have high hopes that it’s going to work out really, really well for what we’re doing.”
Audience members are advised to dress warmly as it can get chilly in the hall.
Macbeth boasts a large cast, with the youngest being nine years old. Youth bring an element of hope to this version of Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, which also has some wonderful elements of humour.
Families should note that the show’s simulated violence and sexuality make it not recommended for youth under 14.
Tickets ($30 for adults; $15 for youth age 14-18) are available at Salt Spring Books.