Something wicked is brewing within the cold concrete walls of the Death Star at UC Davis. You may have caught snippets of them rehearsing sword fights or inadvertently smearing stage blood over the walls while passing your way through the Social Sciences and Humanities building for class. One thing’s for sure, though – Studio 301 Productions will be presenting an unforgettable theatrical spectacle of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth like you’ve never seen it before.
As an entirely undergraduate-run organization, Studio 301 Productions draws inspiration from the Davis community, which university students and faculty can associate with through theater. Likewise, this season’s production of Macbeth takes place in the familiar Social Sciences and Humanities setting.
“This [isn’t just a] place to sit … and talk to friends, [study] or just [walk] through to class,” said Steph Hankinson, a UC Davis alumna and co-director of Macbeth. “Now we’re changing it to a theater space where art can be performed. This play [is] in this space, [and] it’s never going to be done again.”
The architectural complexity of the Social Sciences and Humanities building not only serves as a major component to the visual aesthetics, but also to the tone and character development of William Shakespeare’s tragic heroes.
“[The Social Sciences and Humanities Building] looks like a modern day castle; concrete and hard,” said Cody Messick, the Production Manager of Studio 301 Productions who plays Lady Macbeth. “Macbeth is so much about corruption and evil but also a balance of love … between the Macbeths, the children and their parents. It’s about soft versus hard.”
Studio 301 Production presents a post-modern and stylistic adaptation to Macbeth through experimental and cross-cultural forms of dance, martial arts and music.
“The witches are inspired from Butoh style created after WWII; a way to express drama through your body and showing trauma of the body,” Hankinson said. “[We’re] taking a post-modern twist, so it’s interesting how these different Asian influences have been creeping in.”
In addition to Japanese Butoh style of dance, music played by Sam Shirley contributes to the post-modern take on Macbeth. Sound is implemented with props like a bicycle wheel, wine bottles and cooking pots. Hitting a guitar with drumsticks, for example, adds an experimental raw quality to the scenes.
There is no shortage of action in this interpretation of Macbeth either. Studio 301 Productions inserts several intensely choreographed action scenes inspired by the Korean martial art form Hapkido.
According to co-director Gia Battista, a junior English major, the production crew had to power-wash the stage after each rehearsal due to the large amounts of stage blood resulting from the sword and fighting sequences.
These bloody action-filled scenes make Studio 301 Production’s Macbeth, as Cody Messick describes, “a modern day horror movie and spectacle.” Still, Macbeth offers the classic Shakespearean themes on morality and the human soul.
“We live in a time that is difficult and there’s a constant struggle that all of us go through to see how powerful we can be (how we should be or not be),” Hankinson said. “The play tests those boundaries. How far will you go to get what you want?”
Even if you are not a big fan of Shakespearean plays, Studio 301 Production’s interpretation of Macbeth offers a unique spectacle for the UC Davis campus. So bring your friends, a blanket and tons of layers to keep warm, and let Studio 301 Productions take care of the rest.
Macbeth is scheduled to play today through Sunday, with more performances following on Nov. 18 through Nov. 22. All shows start at 8 p.m. except for the Sunday shows, which start at 6 p.m. Reservations are made by emailing Macbethreservations09@gmail.com. A minimum donation of $10 for adults and $9 for students upon entrance is required. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
UYEN CAO can be reached at email@example.com.