H-T Theater Review: ‘Distant present’ setting helps IU Theater give ‘Macbeth’ new life

Entering the Wells-Metz Theatre for Indiana University’s production of “Macbeth,” it’s clear what the witches are referring to when they speak of “the fog and filthy air.” Haze swirls ceaselessly around the earthy, majestic set.


The Weird Sisters (Brianna Milan, Annie Quigley, and Kristen Alesia). Scenic design by Bridgette Dreher.

The show begins with a flash of lightning and a crack of thunder. From that moment on, “Macbeth” is a twisted, atmospheric journey through the abrupt rise and fall of Scotland’s most legendary king (which, historically speaking, was not so abrupt as the Bard makes it out to be).

The IU Department of Theatre, Drama and Contemporary Dance offers “Macbeth” for this year’s usual Shakespeare slot. The production is magnificently directed by David Kote, a third-year MFA directing student.

The play follows its title character, beginning as a mere thane in the kingdom of Scotland. When three enigmatic witches prophesize that Macbeth will ascend to the king’s throne, a seed of monstrous ambition is planted in him.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth quickly become embroiled in a game of violence and manipulation. The power couple is as tormented by their own moral collapse as they are by the difficulty of accomplishing their misdeeds.

The show stars Ian Martin. Martin seems entirely comfortable as Macbeth; he exudes a palpable air of confidence and tension. His concentration is unwavering. Martin gives us a bold and refreshing interpretation of Shakespeare’s great antihero.


Ian Martin as MACBETH. Lighting by Matthew Wofford.

Playing opposite him as Lady Macbeth is M.F.A. acting student Abby Lee. Lee takes on one of Shakespeare’s most daunting characters and mirrors Martin’s success in doing so. She mounts a performance that you can’t help but watch with your eyes wide open.

The rest of the acting performances vary in quality, but particularly memorable is the comic relief that Chris J. Handley provides as the drunken porter. Handley’s physical comedy chops are an unexpected treat in “Macbeth.”

Kote’s production, conceived as taking place in “the distant present, in the imagination of the observer,” is unique. But, thankfully, Kote doesn’t pursue uniqueness for its own sake. This isn’t Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” but it’s not Kote’s “Macbeth” either; it’s plenty of both.

“Macbeth” is a stunningly designed show. Bridgette Dreher’s set and Matthew Benton Wofford’s lighting are both elegant and practical. The costuming by Kelsey Nichols gives “Macbeth” its timelessness.

Tom Oldham’s sound design, aided by some musical composition from Kimberly Osberg, provides an ominous undercurrent throughout.

In “Macbeth” can be found some of Shakespeare’s darkest and most beautiful verse. The visual splendor does not distract from the language, but rather enhances its impact.

“Macbeth” takes place in a time of constant violence. That violence is brilliantly realized by Professor Adam McLean’s fight choreography. Usually wielding swords and shields, the actors put on realistic and engaging stage combat.

IU Theatre’s production breathes new life (and new death) into this barbarous Shakespearean tragedy.

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. See original article at http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/news/local/distant-present-setting-helps-iu-theater-give-macbeth-new-life/article_0fdb1956-4215-59c0-b7d4-d03b23eba2e7.html

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Discovering Shakespeare at Indiana University…with a tiny Viking.

LarsLars Karlsson, Viking and explorer at IU, discovers Shakespearean-related items in some of his favorite collections throughout IU Bloomington’s campus in honor of IU Theatre’s upcoming production of Macbeth (February 5-13 in the Wellz-Metz Theatre). He even donned his ruff collar for the pictures!


I was most honored by the invitation to be a guest writer for the Indiana University’s Department of Theatre, Drama, & Contemporary Dance’s blog! With their upcoming production of Macbeth and 2016 marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, I was inspired to voyage to some of my favorite repositories on the IU Bloomington campus to discover items related to the play and Shakespeare. My adventures led me to the IU Art Museum, IU Archives, Mathers Museum, Lilly Library, and William and Gayle Cook Music Library. I quickly learned that IU Bloomington is home to many interesting and important Shakespearean works. How lucky are we Hoosiers to have these materials at our very finger tips?!

My first stop was the magnificent Indiana University Art Museum, where I was warmly greeted by Jenny McComas, Class of 1949 Curator of European and American Art. She took me into the Gallery of the Art of the Western World (my favorite gallery!) on the first floor of the Art Museum, where I saw a captivating painting by Swiss painter, Henry Fuseli (1741-1825). Fuseli depicts a scene from Act 1, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with Prospero, Caliban, and Miranda. Gert Schiff, a Fuseli scholar, believes this painting was the model for a book illustration.

Lars_ArtMuseum1Jenny said that the poses of Caliban, Prospero, and Miranda are real poses from 18th century acting manuals! She also thinks that Fuseli’s sympathetic portrayal of Caliban (a slave) is contemporary to the British government outlawing the slave trade in 1807. Jenny taught me so many interesting things about Fuseli’s work. Don’t miss out on experiencing this painting up-close and in person, friends; it’s breathtaking!

Henry Fuseli, Swiss, active England, 1741-1825. Prospero, Caliban, and Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest Act 1, Scene 2, ca. 1806-10. Oil on Canvas. IU Art Museum.

I then went up to the third floor of the IU Art Museum to meet Nan Brewer, Lucienne M. Glaubinger Curator of works on paper. She took me to the viewing room and showed me the most splendid spread of Shakespearean-related works on paper I have ever seen! The portrait of Shakespeare with which I am pictured is an etching (ca. 1900) by William Harry Warren Bicknell (American, 1860-1947). Nan explained that this etching is based on the most famous portrait thought to depict William Shakespeare, which was painted between 1600 and 1610 by an unknown artist. It may have served as the model for the engraved portrait of Shakespeare in the First Folio, and you will see that in a moment! Did you know that you can request to see specific works of art in a viewing room at the Art Museum? The room is available M-F, 8:30 am – 4:45 pm, and you should give at least one week’s notice for scheduling.

Lars_ArtMuseum2To learn more about accessing the collections, visit How To Use Our Collections or email Nan Brewer at nabrewer@indiana.edu. To see more Shakespearean works on paper, be sure to click on the photo gallery at the end of this post!


William Harry Warren Bicknell, American, 1860-1947. William Shakespeare (after the Chandos Portrait), ca. 1900. Etching on paper. Morton and Marie Bradley Memorial Collection, IU Art Museum.

Lars_Lilly1The Lilly Library was the next stop on my quest for Shakespearean items. I searched for William Shakespeare’s Macbeth in the IU Libraries online catalog, IUCAT and limited my search to only Lilly Library books. The Lilly has lots of books by and about Shakespeare and his play Macbeth, so I picked two of my favorite discoveries to share with you. I, of course, had to show you Macbeth in the First Folio.The First Folio was printed in 1623 in “folio” size and is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. Did you know the First Folio is the only source for 18 of the plays, and we have one that you can see and touch right here on campus?!

First Folio. London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623. The Lilly Library, Indiana University

Lars_Lilly2Another book I just had to share with you is a miniature book of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It’s only 24mm in height and is one of only 300 made and signed by Barbara J. Raheb in 1981. The Lilly Library has a wonderful collection of miniature books, along with many other awe-inspiring collections to discover! To locate and access books and manuscripts, use the new Lilly Library Request System AEON or email liblilly@indiana.edu for help.

The Tragedy of Macbeth. Van Nuys, CA.: Barbara J. Raheb, 1981. The Lilly Library, Indiana University

Since Macbeth is set in Scotland, I traveled to the wondrous Mathers Museum of World Cultures to see if there were any Scottish related materials in the collections. I met with Assistant Director, Judy Kirk, who was so kind and helpful. She took me to the viewing room and showed me a real Scottish bagpipe from the mid-20th century! It is from the Laura Bolton collection of ethnomusicological materials. The Mathers Museum has over 30,000 objects and 10,000 photographs in their collections representing cultures from each of the world’s inhabited continents. They always have fascinating items on exhibit and lots of fun activities, so I urge you to visit the Mathers!

Lars_MathersLaura Bolton Collection, Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University

LARS_Lars_ArchivesIf you are interested in the history of IU Theatre, then the IU Archives and Records Management is the place to explore! I first researched their collections for Macbeth on Archives Online, the portal for accessing descriptions of collections. After searching, I discovered some great Macbeth items in the Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama records, 1925-2007. I emailed the IU Archives and requested to see a program and newspaper clippings from a 1965 IU Theatre production of Macbeth. Dina Kellams, Director of IU Archives, kindly greeted me when I arrived and escorted me to the reading room where my requested materials awaited. This picture is from a 1965 newspaper clipping about IU Theatre’s Macbeth; you can see even more images from the IU Archives in the photo gallery at the end of this post!

Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama records, 1925-2007. Indiana University Archives and Records Management


To experience the more musical side of Shakespeare, visit the William & Gayle Cook Music Library. I searched for Macbeth in IUCAT and limited my search to the Music Library. While I discovered many fascinating items on Macbeth, I was most excited about a musical score composed by Giuseppe Verdi titled Macbeth: Melodramma in Quattro Atti. Circulation Supervisor, Charley Roush, kindly hosted my visit and had the piece ready for me see. The score was composed March 14, 1847 and was revised April 21, 1865, and it is written only for piano. The Music Library has many lovely collections of musical scores for you to discover, hear, play, and sing!

Verdi, Giuseppe. Macbeth: Melodramma in Quattro Atti. Milano; New York: G. Ricordi, [187-?]. William & Gayle Cook Music Library, Indiana University

My final stop is to discover Shakespeare at IU Theatre with their production of Macbeth! The performance runs February 5-13 in the Wellz-Metz Theatre. I have my tickets, and I hope to see you there, friends!


Kristin-LeamanLars has some help with his adventures on the IU campus. Kristin Leaman, archivist with University Archives, helps Lars track down IUB’s treasures and, of course, provides transportation. You can read more about Kristin in this 2015 profile from The School of Informatics and Computing. Big THANK YOU to Kristin for sharing this tiny vikings BTown conquests.




First Folio. London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623. The Lilly Library, Indiana University.


First Folio. London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623. The Lilly Library, Indiana University.


The Tragedy of Macbeth. Van Nuys, CA.: Barbara J. Raheb, 1981. The Lilly Library, Indiana University


Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama records, 1925-2007. Indiana University Archives and Records Management.


Photograph by: Kevin Montague William Harry Warren Bicknell (American, 1860-1947). William Shakespeare (after the Chandos Portrait), ca. 1900. Etching on paper. Morton and Marie Bradley Memorial Collection, IU Art Museum 2006.711


Photograph by: Kevin Montague William Sharp (English, 1740-1824) after John Opie (English, 1761-1807). Richard III: In the Tent. Richard Asleep. Ghosts of Persons he had Murdered (Act 5, scene 3) from Woodmason’s Shakespeare Gallery, 1794. Engraving and etching on paper. Gift of Gloria Middeldorf in memory of Ulrich Middeldorf, IU Art Museum


Photograph by: Keven Montague John Hall (English, 1739-1797) after John Opie (English, 1761-1807). King John: Herbert, Arthur, and Executioners (Act 4, scene 1) from Woodmason’s Shakespeare Gallery, 1794. Engraving and etching on paper. Gift of Gloria Middeldorf in memory of Ulrich Middeldorf, IU Art Museum


Photograph by: Kevin Montague Al Hirschfeld (American, 1903-2003). A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1954. Pen and ink on paper. IU Art Museum 72.119.1


Photograph by: Kevin Montague Eugene Delacroix (French, 1798-1863). Study for the Death of Hamlet (Act 5, scene 2), ca. 1834-43. Graphite on paper. IU Art Museum 57.19


Photograph by: Kevin Montague Henry Fuseli (Swiss, active England, 1741-1825). Prospero, Caliban, and Miranda in Shakespeare’s The Tempest (Act 1, Scene 2) ca. 1806-10. Oil on Canvas. IU Art Museum.


Verdi, Giuseppe. Macbeth: Melodramma in Quattro Atti. Milano; New York: G. Ricordi, [187-?]. William & Gayle Cook Music Library, Indiana University


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The Scottish play: IU students bring ‘Macbeth’ back to life

Posted: Sunday, January 31, 2016
By Madeline Dippel Special to the H-T


Ian Martin and Ross Rebennack clashing in “Macbeth”

Clang, clang, clang.

Soldiers emerge upon a rounded stage, painted to resemble the grassy fields of Scotland, and fight, drawing attention.

Clang, clang, clang.

The swords clash together while shields are used for protection.

Clang, clang, clang.

Only three remain in the moss-topped setting.

This year celebrates the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, a man famous for his romances, comedies and dramas including “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet” and “Macbeth.”

The tale of “Macbeth,” a Scottish general coping with internal conflicts, betrayal, murder and the supernatural, is a classic one and has been performed countless times.

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Ian Martin is Macbeth (Photo by Joely Pope)

Director David Kote, a third-year MFA directing candidate, said he inquired about directing the play after the theater department chose “Macbeth” to be brought to life at the Indiana University.

“I wanted a challenge,” he said.

A major challenge in this production was how to make this performance different: how to make the performance stand out.

Kote said he wanted to keep it classical and contemporary — to merge the two together for a new experience.

Student composer and second-year graduate student Kim Osberg said the costume design combines high fashion with small patches of Scottish plaid, updating the show without losing any of its history.


Lady Macbeth (Abby Lee)

“We wanted to do more than just a play,” Kote said. “We wanted to make it an immersive experience … a Macbeth experience.”

The immersive performance begins with the audience encompassing the stage, the classic drama being presented in the round, with speakers placed to surround the audience and to envelop them in the sound.

With any performance, the sound can be an important aspect, and this is emphasized when the audience is surrounded by it.


Malcolm ( Jason Craig West)

“Sound in this play is really important … it’s almost like a character,” Kote said.

Many times, a live orchestra plays the sounds in performances, but because the play is set in the round, an orchestra would be difficult to place.

Kote and Osberg worked together on an opera she wrote that was previously performed at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

So Kote approached Osberg to help compose the music and work with the sound.

“(The audience) can feel the mood through the music,” Osberg said. “Sound can completely draw someone into or push someone out of a moment.”

Osberg works with the music and the play so that they go together cohesively, through insinuating the mood and transitioning between scenes.

“When you work with live musicians, you have more flexibility … to stretch a moment, but with electronic sound, you have the ability to be more accurate and more consistent,” she said.

Osberg said the transitions are most difficult when she does not know how long the scenes are going to take, but the actors shouldn’t have to worry about anything.

“It’s really my job as the music person to make sure that I’m reacting to what they’re doing on stage,” she said.

“I think the most challenging parts of the play are also the most rewarding.”

Working on the play motivated Osberg to do the best job she can, to find her voice and make it cohesive, she said.

“I have had wonderful support and training,” Kote said. “The professors have taken time to nurture what talent I already had.”

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. Original article available at The Herald Times Online.
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MAAA first-year Anne Stichter’s Shakespeare obsession

Meet Anne Stichter. She loves Shakespeare. So, of course, we were thrilled to welcome Anne for a behind-the-scenes look at our upcoming production of MACBETH. Keep an eye out as Anne takes over our Twitter to keep you up to date on the Bard’s infamous tale of murder and betrayal. With swords. And witches. We love it!

Anne Stichter - headshotAnne Stichter is a first-year student in the Master of Arts in Arts Administration program at SPEA. Born and raised in East-Central France and London, England, she completed her B.A. in Theatre and Complementary Psychology at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. Anne reads and studies Shakespeare for fun, teaches workshops in the Unrehearsed Cue Script Technique, and hopes to inspire the modern-day world with love for the Bard.

“Woah…This feels just like the Globe…”

When I first entered the Wells-Metz Theater to see the setting for IU Theatre’s production of Macbeth, these were my words. From the stacked balconies to the color of the railings, the configuration of IU Theatre’s black box space is viscerally reminiscent of the theatre associated with Shakespeare himself.

I spent my middle and high school years in London, England, which, while pretty cool in itself, also upped the ante significantly for field trips. A particularly memorable one took my English class to the Globe to do a workshop with the cast of Othello, after which Iago took us out into the theatre and took us on stage. Yes, I’ve been backstage of the Globe Theatre, and it’s a magical place, almost mythical. It’s full of history and tradition, and the presence and weight of words.

Fast-forward to grad school, where I am entering the Wells-Metz at the second balcony level. It felt the same as walking into the Globe, but with a darker, more industrial, more Steampunk feel.

The effect of stacked balconies is difficult to describe, but my closest approximation is the feeling of gazing down into a valley from the top of a mountain, only contained within a building. It’s a feeling of excitement, a bit of fear, safety in the face of peril, all with an eagerness to get to the bottom, to see what will be there.

In the Wells-Metz, all of these impressions and emotions combine with the feeling of an industrial, rectangular cauldron. Standing on the platform that sits in the center of the acting space, I felt surrounded. On all four sides are seats, those ahead and to my sides rising up three levels. Above my head hung two large rings. I stood at the bottom of the cauldron, and a feeling of inevitability, of being trapped, grew upon me – truly the design of the space strongly emulates Macbeth’s situation as the play unfolds.

I hope you – whoever you are, reading this – will take the opportunity to come see Macbeth in this space. From the moment you enter you can feel the energy and mysticism that characterize this piece, and it’s a unique and powerful example of how Shakespeare’s work is used today.

If you go:
MACBETH – FEB 5-13 in the Wellz-Metz Theatre, 275 N. Jordan Ave.

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H-T Preview: Spring season at Indiana University starts with innovative dance

By Joel Pierson, H-T Theater columnist

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Indiana University Department of Theatre and Drama has expanded to incorporate contemporary dance. In the years since this has occurred, the department has presented a number of innovative and exciting dance performances, featuring cutting-edge techniques, guest choreographers and a heightened spirit of theatricality.

If you’re thinking a dance performance only means a ballet recital of “Swan Lake,” I encourage you to check out “Leading Edges” and see how contemporary a contemporary dance presentation can be.


Photo by Jeremy Hogan

“Leading Edges,” opening Friday for four performances only, features a program of original dances, performed by more than 50 Indiana University students. Choreographers Kyle Abraham and Angie Hauser have created the program for the dancers to bring out their best artistry in a celebration of modern American dance.

Angie Hauser is the winner of a 2006 New York Dance and Performance Award (also known as a Bessie Award) and a member of the Bebe Miller Company. She came to campus to collaborate with undergraduate dance students on “Undertakings in Three Parts.” Hauser specializes in improvisation and collaboration and strives to include the individual styles and talents of her dancers into her choreography.

Kyle Abraham is a well-known and well-respected New York City-based choreographer and dancer. He describes his style with the phrase “mellifluous fluidity,” a harmony of hip-hop and classical styles. He’s also won a Bessie Award, as well as appearing on prestigious lists of performers to watch. His piece, “Radio Show,” was inspired by the loss of black-oriented radio in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Jeremy “Jae” Neal, a member of Abraham’s company, Abraham.in.Motion, visited IU to teach the choreography to the students.

Also featured will be Connie Dinapoli, Adriane Fang and Arturo Garcia, with music by the Jacobs School of Music’s professor of music composition Don Freund. The performance also includes original works by Iris Rosa, director of the African American Dance Company at IU, as well as IU Theatre and Contemporary Dance faculty Nya McCarthy-Brown, Selene Carter, Stephanie Nugent and George Pinney.

Elizabeth Shea, director of IU’s contemporary dance department, had this to say about the experience: “Our vision for the dance program is intentionally broad. One year we might bring European contemporary ballet, and the next we’ll bring in more of an experimental New York aesthetic. We want our students to experience a vast spectrum in their training, and we hope that at least one point in that spectrum speaks to them, personally.”

Art that speaks to the performers also speaks to the audience. Make time this coming weekend to attend “Leading Edges,” and see how theatrical dance can be.

Contact Joel by sending an email to features@heraldt.com with “Pierson” in the subject line.

Reprinted with permission from The Herald Times. See original article at http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/entertainment/spring-season-at-indiana-university-starts-with-innovative-dance/article_b27b4b7e-246c-5ae9-a616-8930cae4d34e.html


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George Pinney: Once an activist, always an activist

Head of Musical Theatre Program at Indiana University choreographs for the 2016 Winter Dance Concert with an intent to provoke thought and stimulate a call to action in a beautifully woven piece, VIRUS.

Pinney.georgeInspired by the World AIDS crisis, Pinney’s vision is to bring this idea of a virus into a more meta/global point of view, with a particular look into how all aspects of humanity’s non-literal viruses can infect our human experience and condition.

While Musical Theatre is what he’s known for at IU, concert dance has always been an important part of Professor Pinney’s life and professional journey. In musical theatre the structure is given to the choreographer by the book and music writers, but in concert dance, the choreographer creates all. “It’s enormously refreshing… In musical theatre you’re going into a house that’s built with a script and score, but in concert dance you’re going into it with an idea and that’s it. So the freedom in that is enormous and it’s just the furthest limits of your imagination”. It’s a true organic collaboration that begins with the first day of rehearsal (whereas in musical theatre, most everything is choreographed prior to the first day of rehearsal).


VIRUS dancers in dress rehearsal

Forever inspired by Martha Graham and Agnes De Mille due to their ability to convey the human condition through dance, he studied the art and discipline of dance during his undergraduate years at Illinois State University. He was heavily involved with student dance projects or “guerrilla” productions, during the Vietnam War, with hopes to inspire and comment on the political landscape at the time.

From the days of undergraduate years, the art of Concert Dance became more formalized as a serious aesthetic while acting as head of performance studies at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He both danced and choreographed in Concert Dance during these years. Once on the scene he continued his work in Concert Dance form along with Musical Theatre.

With what Professor Pinney refers to as his own “moxy”, his artistic inspiration continues to compel him to express the human condition, relentlessly, deeply and with great passion, just as his role models, Martha Graham and Agnes De Mille once did.

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