Guest Director Wendy Franz on Department of Theatre's "Macbeth," Opening Friday

September 24 2019
Morgan Werder and Selah McKenna in 'Macbeth' | Department of Theatre Morgan Werder and Selah McKenna in 'Macbeth' | Department of Theatre

“Macbeth” may be a classic, but for guest director Wendy Franz, its keen modern relevance is undeniable. “The questions at the heart of the play speak to the human experience in any century,” she says.

Franz continues, “When there's not enough to go around, who should decide who gets what? Which is the stronger force shaping our lives: fate or free will? The play also serves as such a visceral cautionary tale for the havoc that ensues when we stop empathizing with other people.” 

This Friday, the Department of Theatre will open its production of the well-known tale by William Shakespeare. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where massive disasters have left resources scarce, this production of “Macbeth” explores the perils of unbridled ambition in a time of great scarcity and fear. 

And this time, Macbeth is a woman.  

“I wanted to cast the strongest actors for the lead roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, regardless of gender,” Franz explains. “So I waited until I'd seen all of the students audition and then, working with the theatre faculty, we cast the show, choosing the actors with the most training, confidence, and fluency with Shakespeare.”

Non-binary actor Morgan Werder was cast to bring the fascinating psychology of Macbeth to life. “It has been a real pleasure working with Morgan on figuring out where Macbeth is coming from, why our Macbeth does the things she does, what frame of mind she is in at the beginning of the play and the choices that character makes that lead to the end of the play,” Franz describes. Actor Selah McKenna will tackle the equally complex character of Lady Macbeth.

Franz is the Managing Director at Colorado Shakespeare Festival, where she has directed, produced, and designed sound for numerous productions since 2001.

“This is my first foray into directing outside of a professional company and I have been so impressed with these bright young minds!” Franz says. “There are always wonderful discoveries to make in the rehearsal room when we start to unpack a script, but the most joyful discovery for me has been just how focused, disciplined and insightful these undergraduate students are!”

We couldn't agree more and anxiously await Friday night. 

Here are the details: 

Dates and Times:
Sep. 27, 29, and Oct. 3-5, 2019 at 7:30 p.m.
Sep. 29, Oct. 5 and 6, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.

Studio 115 in the Performing Arts Building, 240 S. 1500 East.
Paid parking is available in the visitor's Marriott Library parking lot, to the south of the theater.

Free for University of Utah students through ArtsPass!
General Admission $18.00 
Get your tickets HERE!

A post-performance discussion with the cast and creative team will be held on Friday, October 4, immediately following the evening 7:30 p.m. performance. Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theatre, Mark Fossen will be leading the discussion with production dramaturg, Anna Coltrin where audiences are invited to engage in the conversation.