published Friday, April 13th, 2012

CTC staging 'Macbeth' concept 'Mr. and Mrs. M'

Kim Jackson and Patrick Sweetman play the titular characters in "Mr. and Mrs. M, a Fantasia on Shakespeare's Macbeth"
Kim Jackson and Patrick Sweetman play the titular characters in "Mr. and Mrs. M, a Fantasia on Shakespeare's Macbeth"

A reconceived, film-noir-inspired "Macbeth," with a back story involving the very theater in which it will be performed, will open at the Chattanooga Theatre Centre tonight.

"Mr. & Mrs. M, a Fantasia on Shakespeare's Macbeth" was crafted from The Bard's play by the theater's costume designer, Scott Dunlap, who also designed the set, the costumes, the lighting and the sound.

"It's been really, really fun," he said. "It's been a labor of love. Everyone [in the cast] is anxious to see what folks will think of it."

Dunlap said in creating the production, which uses the Shakespearean language, he tried to "really hit all of the chief moments, lines [and] soliloquies" in the play.

"Whether you are a purist or novice [on Shakespeare]," he said, "there should be something to take away from it. It's just a creative and imaginative way to look at it in different way."

The fictional back story involves a previous theater erected in 1942 on the site of the current CTC. Its first production was intended to be "Macbeth," but 13 days before the opening the cast began to suffer a series of casualties. It was rumored the playhouse was built above a burial ground.

On the evening of the final dress rehearsal, the actor playing Macbeth, driven inexplicably mad, hanged himself onstage in front of the remaining cast members. As a result, the play never opened, the building was condemned, padlocked and faded from memory.

However, The Little Theatre purchased the site in 1962, demolished the former building and built a new theater. Then in 1995, during a remodeling, a trunk apparently buried from the first theater was found. The few salvageable items were removed and set apart for possible future use.

In the intervening years to today, people's voices have been heard reciting text in a seemingly empty theater, a spectral patron has occupied a certain seat, and, unexpectedly, paint cans have been overturned, scenery ruined and costumes hidden.

Shakespeare's tragedy, then, is being performed, according to Dunlap, to "cleanse the bad mojo from the theater."

The edited "Macbeth," he said, concentrates on the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. M with an "easier understanding of it."

Dunlap said the production is appropriate for audiences of teenagers through adults. There's nothing graphic, he said, but the action in "Macbeth" itself might be a little disturbing for younger children.

Contact Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6497.

IF YOU GO

* What: "Mr. & Mrs. M, a Fantasia on Shakespeare's Macbeth."

* When: 8 p.m. today, Saturday, April 20-21, April 27-28; 7 p.m. Thursday and April 26; 2:30 p.m. April 22 and April 29.

* Where: MainStage, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.

* Admission: $10-$25 ($30 opening night).

* Phone: 267-8534.

* Website: www.TheatreCentre.com.

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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