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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Macabre Masterpiece: Macbeth at Fort Point is Truly an Epic of Shakespearean Proportions

Posted By on Thu, Jun 19, 2014 at 10:22 PM

Macbeth addressing dinner guests which are also the audience members. - IMAGE COURTESY OF WE PLAYERS
  • Image Courtesy of We Players
  • Macbeth addressing dinner guests which are also the audience members.

As the fog, wind, and waves pound the walls of the brick fortress beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, there's a struggle of power to ascend the throne playing out as key players are being assassinated in a game of metaphorical royal chess.Their screams of anguish, doubt, and pain echo through the halls and everyone present after dusk becomes captive prisoners and witnesses who are heavily and intricately involved with the unfolding drama.

This may seem like some sort of ghost horror story being narrated in San Francisco's Presidio but it is simply theatre. No, not the theatre of life but of Shakespearean proportions.

For a limited time there's live theatre being enacted behind the stone walls of this abandoned fortress. We Players is currently performing a dramatic and classical performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge for the next two weekends-- and the results are simply breathtaking and fantastic because for three hours, you forget that you are directly under the the biggest tourist attraction of San Francisco because you revel and immersed in the world of medieval Scotland.

We Players does away with the fourth wall in their theatre productions and audience members are not complacent. Multiple performance story lines wind through the dark stone corridors, narrow passageways, massive arches, and inner chambers of the fort and the audience moves rapidly throughout the inner workings of the scenery and the play simultaneously.

  • Image Courtesy of We Players

The Golden Gate bridge towers overhead and the city skyline flickers in the distance. Macbeth's Scotland collides with Civil War era and modern day San Francisco but instead of it being a jarring juxtaposition, the results are a fluid and cathartic transcendence through complete sensory and intellectual immersion-- something that can be extremely difficult to attain with a play that has been produced innumerable times throughout the century.

But instead of trying to inject modernity to the antique words, Ava Roy, who is founder and creative director of We Players, and her team remain faithful to the words from the English bard and allow the dialogue to become the transformative adhesive between time, space, and audience. Even more so, We Players goes back to the roots of theatre itself, an experience originally between people in their natural habitats done solely through song, speech, and movement. And that is the objective of We Players-- site-integrated performance events that transform public spaces into realms of participatory theater:

"We bring communities together, reclaiming local spaces for public discourse and civic celebration through art. Extending the transformative powers of performance beyond the stage, we invite our collaborators and audience to engage fully and awaken to the spectacular world around us."

And by staging these productions at our national parks and monuments, this company is not only educating the community through theatre, but it allows locals to experience their natural habitats in fashions that aren't cliche nor predictably touristic and stereotypical. But the selection of sites isn't done at whimsy, the site has to complement the aura and themes of each script. And Macbeth at Forth Point is a perfect pairing(and not just for the similar weather climates of the UK and SF).

  • Image Courtesy of We Players
  • Ava Roy as Lady Macbeth

There is an element of power being an imposing figure for the characters and the collsal walls of Forth Point are a reflection of that element. There are turbulent physical winds that may be whipping our frozen cheekbones but remind us that this play is dark and at anytime, one's tornado of wants can numb our logic and senses (like it did with Macbeth and his Lady).

"Something wicked this way comes.." and it is this production because it is wickedly engaging and brilliant in its simple staging and commitment to audience engagement. The performances are chilling and we are not saying that because of the physical cold you will experience in that wind tunnel of a location. The actors are fully committed to their lines and their conviction is palpable, thus being a key aid in making the play successfully convincing.

But don't take our word for it, simple bundle up and go witness this performance for your own eyes. Don't wait since "tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow" will be be much too late.

For tickets and performance dates, visit We Players website.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Juan at @JuanPDeAnda, and like us on Facebook

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About The Author

Juan De Anda

Juan De Anda

Juan De Anda is a cultural correspondent with a concentration in tourism, literature, and lifestyle and has been writing for SF Weekly since 2013. As an avid traveler, he enjoys discovering destinations abroad as well as the never-ending hidden gems of San Francisco. #DondeAndaJuanDeAnda?


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