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You mention that in Anne Bogart: Viewpoints, the book that Actors Theatre of Louisville published in 1995 about you and your work, that one of the reasons you got into theater was because of an early experience seeing a production of Macbeth as a teenager at Trinity Repertory in Providence, RI.
It really transformed me. It was really brilliant and I was 15 and I didn't really understand the language. So that play had been interesting to me since then. We decided to do Radio Macbeth
, where it is as though the Mercury Theatre on the Air had just finished performing War of the Worlds
and they were all exhausted and they wanted to go home and Orson said, no, you're not going home, as a matter of fact, meet me later, we're going to rehearse our next radio play. So they show up, reluctantly, but they're all ace actors, ready to rehearse Macbeth
, and as they start to rehearse, the play takes over. You get to all the heart and soul and terror that play evokes in its best form. And all of that again through the theater and its double. What you're seeing is a group of actors in the late 1930s, rehearsing a play, and somehow in the audience's imagination you see the heat and you see the witches.
Returning to the moment that inspired you to pursue a life in the theater. What is it like to take on Macbeth now, as someone who has built a successful career in the theater? You speak so much in your writing about the strangeness and terror and weirdness of your first experiences with theater and spectacle.
Well, I think one of things that makes Macbeth
such a magical play is that Shakespeare, á la sampling, lifted, literally, incantations from witchcraft. A lot of what the witches say, in the years of an Elizabethan, was actually dangerous, because it was calling forth spirits. There is something about that play that makes everybody worry when they're working on it. So in that sense, both because it had such an influence on me and because it's a scary play, I'm trepidatious. Literally. We're going into rehearsal in 45 minutes.
In your May 2010 blog entry you're chewing on the idea that you're done with postmodernism or that postmodernism is done in general. In reading about SITI's War of the Worlds, it seems that it's an extremely postmodern piece, which could be said about much of your work. I wonder how the thinking in that blog entry is playing out, if at all. Is your work changing as a result?
I'm a big believer in the power of words, and I'm definitely a child of postmodernism and all of my instincts are postmodern, so I figure if I say it aloud it might start. People actually believe words. So, it's more of an attempt to strike out into something new, but I don't know what that is. I know it has something to do with storytelling and something to do with asking the questions, who is this for, and whose stories are they.