Calling Lady Macbeth “probably the most challenging role to get into,” Rachel Strayer of Clarks Summit is delighted to have her turn as the woman who hankers to become queen in Ghostlight Productions’ sixth annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park presentation of “Macbeth” this weekend.
“I’m thrilled to get the chance,” said Strayer, who has put a lot of thought into the character’s motivation.
Why does this ambitious woman push her husband, over all his protests, to kill King Duncan?
“I think it’s really simple to portray Lady Macbeth as evil,” Strayer said. “The more complex angle to take is to approach who she is as a person. She certainly has a lot of influence over her husband, but they approach this as a team.”
So why would a woman think murder was the best way to advance her husband’s career?
“It’s interesting that Shakespeare builds in the back story of them having lost a child,” Strayer said. “Clearly the Macbeths are without children. I really think that when Lady Macbeth says things like ‘unsex me, make me like a man,’ she doesn’t see that she has that purpose (motherhood) as a woman anymore. I think she’s fully aware that what she’s doing is wrong, but if she can’t give her husband children she wants to at least make him king.”
Strayer’s husband, Jonathan, is directing the show and has updated a few of its traditional components.
“His vision is to have a multitude of witches,” Rachel Strayer said, “to be representative of the supernatural force.”
Instead of three “wyrd sisters,” this production has nine witches, three of whom are men.
“Several times throughout the play the witches interact, not as actors with multiple roles but as witches playing multiple roles,” Strayer said.
While the witches adapt their use of hoods and capes, depending on how shrouded they need to be, all the men in the cast wear kilts, not so much traditional, whole-nine-yards Scottish kilts as combat cargo kilts with pockets.
Instead of a kettle for the witches to stir, they have a drum to beat.
As for the way Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Castle on the day Macbeth pays for his crimes, Strayer said, “My husband has come up with a creative solution, but he’d rather I didn’t give it away.”