Villanova Student Theatre Performs Macbeth

Students+in+Macbeth+performed+on+a+successful+opening+night.

Courtesy of @Vstheatre Instagram

Students in Macbeth performed on a successful opening night.

Brendan King, Staff Writer

Shakespeare may not have written any plays since the 1600s, but his works are as relevant as ever at the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts. 

The Villanova Student Theatre’s production of “Macbeth” premiered in the Mullen Center’s Smith Performance Lab on Friday, Nov. 11. This is VST’s first production of the 2022-2023 school year. 

The story of “Macbeth” follows the titular Scottish character as he is met by three mysterious witches who claim that he will become king. What follows is a show filled with desperation, betrayal and murder. Junior Monroe Byer stars as Macbeth in VST’s adaptation. 

Villanova’s production of “Macbeth” is directed by Amanda Coffin. A graduate of Villanova and Production Manager for the Theatre department, this show marks her first time directing for VST. However, this is far from the first time she has been involved in a production of this Shakespeare classic.

“I know this show really well,” Coffin said. “I’ve done it many times. I have directed it previously, I’ve been in it previously and I’ve done sound design for it previously.”

Although Coffin has worked on productions of “Macbeth” many times, she still felt a great level of excitement when she got the opportunity to direct it for VST. 

“It’s exciting to come back to it, and now that I’m a staff member in the Theatre department, it’s really fun that I’m coming back to the same show that I was so familiar with when I was a grad student,” Coffin said. 

VST worked hard throughout the entire semester to make sure its rendition of “Macbeth” was a success. Rehearsals occurred three to four days per week over the course of multiple months. 

“September, I believe, is when we started rehearsals, and it’s now November, so it was a pretty prolonged process,” Coffin said. “Three to four days a week with some weekends that were longer to just sort of run through. And then ‘tech week,’ which has been the past week-and-a-half, is really extensive. Every single day we’re here running the show or working to add technical elements.”

Though the performance is mostly a faithful adaptation of the Shakespeare original, Coffin described how there were some differences made in VST’s version in order to keep the story fresh and understandable.

“For me, it’s about finding the storytelling that is the strongest,” Coffin said. “I do think that there are moments in every Shakespeare play that are confusing. When you have a lot of characters, the audience can find it difficult to track who those characters are, and we had a smaller cast for this show. We had 15 people.”

With a seating capacity of only around 75, the Smith Performance Lab is hardly the size of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. That being said, many stylistic and technical elements had to be put in place to ensure a successful production in such an intimate setting. For instance, there is only one main set used for the show, with a handful of props used to differentiate the multiple settings and locations within it. 

“It was a challenge to stage it in this space, and I knew from the beginning that we wouldn’t have a lot of space to keep a lot of furniture backstage or change from scene to scene, so I made the decision early on that we were primarily going to work with one setting and have furniture onstage that could move and that could be brought forward,” Coffin said. 

Other solutions to potential issues caused by a relatively small amount of space included having the actors go “out into the hallway” and “underneath the seating risers” in order to get from one side of the stage to the other. 

Overall, Coffin believed that opening night was a success and was proud of the work that the cast and crew put into the production. 

“They did a great job,” Coffin said. “They’ve been ready for an audience for a couple shows now, so it’s really nice to see them feel the energy of the audience. I think they’re only going to continue to settle and get better the more it goes.” 

VST’s production of “Macbeth” will continue to be shown in the Smith Performance Lab until Sunday, Nov. 20. In addition, plans are underway for the production of Treasure Island in the spring semester.