A Walk Into the Unknown: Clark University Players Society turns the Tragedy of Macbeth into New England Horror.

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Brett Iarrobino '21

Rachel Goldman, Contributing Writer

As Brett Iarrobino, President of the Clark University Players Society reflects on their upcoming play, he declares “Theatre is a synapse response process, the things that we remember the most are the things that are the most striking”. Within the historic context of a global pandemic, and a new experimental format, the Clark University Player’s Society (CUPS) production of William Shakespeare’s iconic play, Macbeth, from Thursday, October 22nd to Sunday, October 25th, promises to be one of Clark University’s most striking creative experiences yet.

Despite the daunting task of staging a socially distanced play, CUPS is itself a safeguard to history as the oldest known student club on campus and one of the earliest theatre companies in Worcester since its inception in 1908.

In 2018, nearly 110 years after the company’s founding, CUPS was faced with another historic change when it was announced that the Little Center, the building used to stage CUPS’ plays, was being closed for renovation in 2020. Iarrobino credits this earlier development for the CUPS e-board’s seamless transition from conversations about alternative shows to accommodate location changes to a show structured around maintaining the social distance between actors, audience members, and crew.

Conversations about appropriate staging have culminated in Macbeth taking place at the Hadwen Arboretum, a woodlot located in Columbus Park owned by Clark University. Instead of sitting down to watch a show, audience members will walk alongside actors throughout the forest as they perform scenes across illuminated pathways.

With a new location and the mobility of the audience, this production of Macbeth is a challenging and invigorating experience for everyone involved. The dichotomy of the experience is encapsulated by Maya Krantz, a lighting designer, who elaborates on this challenge classifying theatres as “built for the specific purpose of housing appropriate technology: costume rooms, spaces for a booth, backstage wings, dressing rooms.”

This year’s theater provides new challenges for Krantz. “the Arboretum is a separate entity. We don’t have any traditional places to hang lights. Any structural pieces we want to hang up, we have to bring and take back each night.” Yet when Ms. Krantz finishes her classification, her face stretches into an enthusiastic smile as she giddily raves about the product’s potential to “have the aesthetic of a ghost story.”

Ms. Krantz’s fascination with incorporating ghosts into the aesthetic of the story has been similarly emphasized by Gino Dilorio, a successful New York-based playwright and actor as well as the current program director for Clark University theatre, who blunted stated, “Macbeth is wicked scary, if you see Macbeth and you’re not scared, you didn’t really see it.”

Subsequently, Mr. Iarrobino hopes to utilize the Arboretum’s natural scenery to create an interpretation of Macbeth that will harbor the atmosphere of a “Shakespearean tragedy crossed with a New England folktale.” Mr. Iarrobino elaborates that in a location outside of the familiar spaces of the city or campus, or even a stage, audience members will have to expose themselves by literally interacting with the show’s paranormal elements of ghosts, prophecy, and witchcraft.

For lead actor Nick Sturman, playing the titular character, his unsettling interactions with the show’s supernatural themes have already manifested in his personal and creative experiences. Personally, Mr. Sturman first encountered the character of Macbeth when his parents read him the script as a bedtime story when he was a child. Now, playing the character, Mr. Sturman describes it as “reuniting with a creature from [his] childhood.”

If audience members wary of the occult, Mr. Sturman promises a new dimension of horror to the titular character through his interpretation of Macbeth as increasingly deluded under his realization that he is a character in a play. Mr. Sturman’s description of the character is given dimension by Mr. Iarrobino’s goal of providing audience members with full face masks to turn them into an “anonymous, moving part of the collective”.

AJ Simmons ’23

In the midst of terrifying times, the production team of Macbeth finds stability in the experience of creating the unknown, or as Mr. Dilorio phrases it, something “cold and spooky.” In order to enjoy this “walk into the unknown,” it is essential to RVSP for tickets using the link (https://www.signupgenius.com/go/8050844a4ad2aa2fc1-macbeth1). Once you click on the link, select any of the timeslots offered and enter your name, email, phone number, and the number of desired tickets. Afterward, an email will be sent to confirm.