American Shakespeare Center to Perform at MC

This Friday, Oct.  13, the American Shakespeare Center will be returning to Manhattan College for a performance of “Macbeth” at 8 p.m. in Smith Auditorium.

The traveling troupe has been visiting the campus for the last five years, and in the past has presented sold out performances of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Much Ado About Nothing.”

The ASC was founded in 1988 by Jim Warren and Ralph Alan Cohen, but is connected to MC by English professor Brian Chalk who, during his undergraduate years at James Madison University, was taught by Cohen and was inspired by him to pursue a career in Shakespearean literature.

“Macbeth is about an ambitious man trying to make a mark, thinking through what it means to achieve something in this world at the expense of leaving something positive behind for posterity and he makes the wrong decision,” Chalk said. “More interestingly, he is a murderer with an acute sense of his own moral failings.”

The American Shakespeare Center performs these plays as though they are performing for a Shakespearean audience in the sixteenth century. The actors take the stage in full lighting, they move quickly, and they never change even a single word of the original text.

Joseph Clark, who is on his second consecutive tour with the group, will be playing the role of Banquo this upcoming Friday. After performing at MC last year, he admits that performing for a college crowd is different from a traditional audience.

“I do find that most college crowds are more outspoken, and less afraid to vocally react to what they see on stage, which is nice,” he said.

In order to prepare for his role as Banquo, Clark has to activate the lower register of his voice due to the fact that his normal speaking voice is a bit higher than the character he is trying to portray. He also has to practice widening his stance and his walk, because of Banquo’s role as a soldier.

As far as what messages and themes students can take away from “Macbeth” Clark states that there is a “careful what you wish for” message that is universal for any audience.

“I also think there’s some interesting questions about whether we have control over our destiny and our actions or if we’re merely puppets being beckoned forward by more powerful beings than ourselves,” he added.

Ally Farzetta will take the stage playing the role of Lady Macbeth in the upcoming performance. It is her first season with the traveling troupe.

While she has never performed at MC, Farzetta is from the New York City area and has been preparing for the role by spreading the word to her family and friends about the show.

She agrees with Clark that performing for a college audience is very vocal                                 and interactive.

“Often times students have recently read the plays we’re performing for them, so they are pretty familiar with it and able to really go on the ride with us without trying to figure out who’s who and what’s going on as much,” she said.

Farzetta’s favorite role she has ever played is Elinor from Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility,” which she is currently performing this season on tour.

“From day one I’ve felt really connected to her and I feel like I know her more than I’ve ever known any other character I’ve played before,” she said.

Kyle Powell, who will be performing the roles of witch, Donalbain, and murderer, is looking forward to the play on Friday because he states that college students force the actors to “show up 100 percent of the time.”

As far as relations and connections to Shakespeare’s work, Powell notes that the words of Shakespeare are as prevalent in a college community than they were hundreds of years ago.

“I think college is a time when people get really ambitious, both academically and socially. Because of this, a lot of rash decisions and mistakes are made,” he said. “Sometimes beautiful, sometimes not so much. Macbeth is a good lesson about how cutting corners never works out in the long run and secrets rarely remain secret without destroying the person.”