WSU Theatre Performs ‘Macbeth’ From Perspective of Holocaust

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s theatre department presents William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Macbeth” — this year with a twist.

The 8 p.m. program at WSU’s Jones Theatre in Daggy Hall — runs Nov. 29 and 30 and Dec. 1, 6, 7 and 8 — is set in modern times, and in the play, the children of World War II concentration camp survivors present a production of “Macbeth” as part of a healing process.

In Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth (senior Sean Barker) is the hero of Scotland. As he and his friend, Banquo (sophomore Josh Evans) return from the battlefield, they meet three “weird sisters” (senior Morgan Straub, senior Katie Watson and senior Emily Kolczynski) who prophesize Macbeth will become king.

Macbeth confides in his wife (sophomore Emily Squyer), and they plot to murder King Duncan (senior John Delgado). Macbeth is crowned king, but rather than finding security in his role, Macbeth fears those around him. He begins an escalating cycle of violence, betrayal and murder.

Director Terry Converse says second-generation survivor characters would be drawn to the tragedy by “the play’s power to grab them by their throats and pull them out of their comfort zones into the chilling waking nightmare of a world gone mad.”

Macbeth, like Hitler, was a mass murderer. The second-generation survivors are shocked by the revelation “that there’s a little Macbeth in all of us,” Converse says. For the characters, everything in life is inevitably glimpsed through the lens of genocide.

Like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, this Macbeth character is respected by those around him. But by associating Macbeth with the Nazi killing machine, his “success” is highly qualified, Converse says.

The play is still relevant, particularly with today’s events. “‘Macbeth’ reverberates around issues of war, and it will be virtually impossible to witness our production without thinking about the ramifications of our country at war,” he says.

For more information, contact Converse at 509/335-5161.