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Nashville Shakespeare Festival to bring 'Macbeth' to Franklin

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The Nashville Shakespeare Festival’s winter Shakespeare production, “Macbeth,” one of the bard’s darkest and most famous tragedies, will travel to Franklin’s Academy Park Performing Arts Center from Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

Set in an unforgiving, post-apocalyptic world, the warrior Macbeth, spurred on by a supernatural prophecy and his power-hungry wife, is driven to murder and ultimate madness in his unrelenting quest to gain and keep the throne. 

This action-packed production will end its three-week run at Belmont’s Troutt Theater in Nashville on Jan. 26, then tour to Franklin’s Academy Park Performing Arts Center from Jan. 30-Feb. 2 and to MTSU’s Tucker Theatre in Murfreesboro from Feb. 6-8. Then, for the first time, NSF will take the full production to Tullahoma for student matinees and one public performance on Feb. 14, then finish the tour in Clarksville for student matinees and one public performance on Feb 21. 

NSF’s decision to tour this production allows thousands more middle and high school students to experience Shakespeare in a visceral, memorable way.

David Wilkerson, a longtime NSF collaborator and local actor/director/fight choreographer who teaches in the MTSU Theatre Department, edited the text and also directs the play. 

“This ‘Macbeth’ is an exploration of those moments that tempt us to deny the humanity in others, thus throwing away a piece of our own,” he said. “In this defiled world, our choices can ease the corruption and the power of the creatures that feed on it, or our actions can add to it.”

Playing the title role is Sam Ashdown, returning to the Nashville Shakes stage after his critically acclaimed performances of Hamlet in “Hamlet” (2018) and Mark Antony in “Julius Ceasar” (2019). Playing the merciless Lady Macbeth is Nashville native Mariah Parris, Jordan Gleaves returns to NSF to play Banquo and NSF veteran Brian Russell will play Duncan. Other past NSF actors in the cast are Delaney Keith (Witch/Porter), Joy Greenawalt-Lay (Lady Macduff/Fleance), Kit Bulla (Witch), Andrew Johnson (Seyton) and Natalie Rankin (Witch).  Joining the company for the first time are Elyse Dawson (Macduff), DeYonte Jenkins (Ross), Jonathan Contreras (Lennox), Lucy Buchanan (Malcolm) and 11-year-old Micah Williams (Donalbaine).

Creating the eerie, ruinous, physical world of “Macbeth” is set designer Jim Manning, lighting designer Anne Willingham, costume designer Jocelyn Melechinsky and props designer Amanda Creech, and composer Evan Wilkerson will design the sound. The many battle scenes and murders in the play will be co-choreographed by fight director Carrie Brewer and Wilkerson. 

Performances at Franklin’s Academy Park Performing Arts Center (112 Everbright Ave.) will be Jan. 30-Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 in advance and $33 at the door. Purchase $100 VIP Royal Packages (which include reserved parking, prime seating and other perks) at nashvilleshakes.org

All of NSF’s programming is supported in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission and Metro Arts. The National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest presents Shakespeare in American Communities. The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is one of 40 professional theater companies across the nation selected to perform a Shakespeare play with a professional team of actors for middle and high schools and conduct related educational activities for students.

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