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Booker High VPA Theatre Students to Present Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” – February 20-22

by Rebecca Abrahamson, VPA Coordinator & AICE English General Paper Instructor at Booker High School

SARASOTA COUNTY, February 11, 2020 – Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) theatre department will present William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” during three 7:00 PM shows from Thursday, February 20— Saturday, February 22 in the VPA theatre. The productions will be directed by Sunny Smith.

The play is a dark, cautionary tale about the consequences of relentlessly pursuing power at the expense of all else. Smith says its thought-provoking messages— Who can be trusted in a world of mayhem? How much does fate determine our future? —have been resonating with her teenage cast.

“They have latched onto it because it feels like the world they live in. There’s very much a feeling of ‘who can you trust’ that these kids just get,” Smith says.

Beyond the relevance of this cautionary tale to contemporary society, Smith says it’s important for young actors to be immersed in Shakespeare in meaningful ways. She employs student dramaturgs— whose job it is to research history, Shakespeare, and other points of interest —and the results are a team invested not just in putting on a production, but also in exploring the world, characters, and motives built into the script.

“High schools put on Shakespeare but don’t always understand it. I try to find ways to allow students to dig deeper into the emotional tissue of these characters,” Smith says. 

With Shakespeare, there is, obviously, the language to learn, and Smith says it’s one of her students’ favorite parts. She is meticulous in teaching scansion, and the students revel in attempting to speak in certain rhythms, or determining the rhythms, of works they’re reading.

“Who’s putting their math equation into something they’re ordinarily doing?” Smith quips. “Clearly, it’s impacted them enough so they’re thinking about it outside of just doing a play.”

In the end, Smith says, she hopes the audience will be confronted with the elements of the play in a way that prompts them to consider our current society. To complement the ideas of parallels, she’s brought the aesthetic into the modern, so costumes are Scottish punk and the sets include modern looking stained-glass portraits of pivotal characters.

“We’re not holding back. If the audience is assaulted by this world [in the performance], hopefully they’ll get a clearer look at the world that they’re living in.”

“Macbeth” will run Thursday, February 20— Saturday, February 22. Each evening’s show begins at 7:00 PM; all shows will be held in the Booker High School theatre. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for students. Tickets are available online at www.bookervpa.com or at the box office by phone: (941) 355-2967, ext. 65211.