ETSU puts futuristic spin on Macbeth

Macbeth dates back to the year 1165, but ETSU's production of the Shakespearean classic will more closely resemble a post-apocalyptic wasteland than lush Scotland.

Bobby Funk, director of Macbeth and a theater professor at ETSU, decided to probe the essence of murder in a futuristic world already destroyed by ego and greed in the production which opens Nov. 16 at VA Memorial Theatre. "This play is going to look like a video game, more fantasy-like than normal, with futuristic weapons," Funk said.

Funk wanted to target a younger audience with this production so that the younger generation would realize that Macbeth is not just about people whose speech and clothes are different. "Macbeth is a play about Shakespeare warning us that misguided ambition is against us," Funk said. "I think that is the main idea of the play."

The costumes will resemble those of a futuristic video game and heavy metal music will play throughout the show. "Students who like to play a lot of games will enjoy this, it will look very futuristic," Funk said. "I looked at science fiction books and read about a time where they used swords and weapons like that."

Funk said he feels very fortunate to have three seasoned veterans along with a great student cast in his version of "The Scottish Play". The Macbeths, are being played by real life husband and wife team Karen Sabo and Derek Davidson, who have performed all over the region. Derek is currently an instructor at ETSU and Karen is working here on her Master's degree in the MALS program. Another top notch pro in this production is ETSU's newest assistant professor Herb Parker who is playing the dual roles of King Duncan and the Porter.

In discussing the play last year with colleague Pat Cronin, Funk said, "I told Pat Cronin that this is a play that must have great sexual chemistry between the Macbeths and when real life married couple Karen Sabo and Derek Davidson became available to do those roles I just knew we'd have the chemistry this play so desperately needs.

"Macbeth is searching for power throughout the play, and the fact that he becomes king is very exciting to both he and Lady Macbeth in ways that make them not only powerful but also which enriches their marriage � power is indeed the ultimate aphrodisiac."

Herbert Parker, a professor of theatre at ETSU, who plays King Duncan and the Porter, has much experience in Shakespearean theatre. "I think that people will love the transformation from king to this really drunk and crazy Porter," Funk said.

Funk is also very excited about the portrayals of the three witches in this production. He sees them as similar to the Fates in Greek tragedy and they are on stage for the entire play, watching and waiting for their prophecies to unfold.

For the director, this Macbeth is a step toward perhaps another production of this play in which the play is about Klingons in a futuristic Star Trek world. "I love Shakespeare and I want young audiences to feel the same excitement when they see a Shakespeare play that they feel when they are playing their X Box 360s".

Macbeth performs at the Veterans Memorial Theatre Nov. 16-18 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. There will be a sign language interpreter on Nov. 16 and reservations can be made by Calling 439 7576 or by e mail .