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Macbeth (A Modern Ecstasy)

Directed by Travis Preston
Performed by Stephen Dillane

Macbeth (A Modern Ecstasy) is a radical reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Artistic Director Travis Preston and performed  by Stephen Dillane, known for his work on London and Broadway stages as well as in film. In this incarnation, the entire performance text of Macbeth became a “score” for a single performer.

Dillane performs the entire text of Macbeth, accompanied by  a trio of musicians led by jazz luminary Vinny Golia. In Preston’s vision, the stage becomes a nocturnal landscape with Dillane as magician of the unconscious, conjuring Shakespeare’s tragic masterpiece from the recesses of the mind. Both medium and shaman, Dillane undergoes continual transformation possessed by the myriad characters and ulterior forces of this starkly powerful work. Dillane haunts the stage, an eerie environment of sand and water designed by Christopher Barreca to create an elemental intimacy, doomed to inhabit the tormented visions of Macbeth’s consciousness.

Acknowledged as one of the finest actors of his generation, Stephen Dillane is known for his award winning performances in London and on Broadway. He is the recipient of the 2000 Tony Award for Best Actor in The Real Thing. His extraordinary film performances include: the role of Horatio in Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet opposite Mel Gibson, Welcome to Sarajevo with Woody Harrelson, and the role of Leonard Woolf in The Hours opposite Nicole Kidman. Dillane’s stage work has been called “ineffably charismatic…extraordinarily subtle (and) deeply humane” by Charles Isherwood and the Sunday Times of London praised his “tense, edgy, thrilling performance” as Hamlet. “Mr. Dillane is…” writes Ben Brantley in The New York Times, “never less than captivating.”

Macbeth (A Modern Ecstasy) was developed at the 2004 Sundance Institute Theater Lab and represents the collaboration of three members of the California Institute of the Arts faculty, Preston (Head of Directing), Christopher Barreca (Head of Scene Design), Vinny Golia (School of Music) and Ellen McCartney (Head of Costume Design, Director of Design and Production).

Performance History

REDCAT, Los Angeles, 2004
Almeida Theatre, London, 2005
Adelaide Festival, Australia, 2006
Sydney Theatre, Australia, 2006

Photos: Scott Groller

Production Team

Travis Preston, Director
Stephen Dillane, Performer
Vinny Golia, Composer
Christopher Barreca, Scenic Design
Benoit Beauchamp, Lighting Design
Ellen McCartney, Costume Design
Adam Howarth, Sound Design
Jon Gottlieb, Sound Design
Danel Trisi, Stage Manager
Bill Ballou, Production Manager
Meredith Lynsey Schade, Associate Producer (CNP)
Carol Bixler, Producer
Jeremy Drake, Musician
Harris Eisenstadt, Musician
Vinny Golia, Musician