- Purchase/rental options available:
For 45 years, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks (MSIP) has staged free, outdoor performances across Montana and the surrounding states. In the summer of 2017 they played in 61 places, and each geographical location—ranging from rolling grasslands to craggy mountains to arid plains—allowed an engagement with site-specific theatre. Drawing upon the importance of the environment and public lands in Montana, the 2017 MSIP production of Macbeth was set in a post-apocalyptic period following a global collapse brought on by climate change. As the dramaturg for this production, I sought to raise thought-provoking questions about parallels between Jacobean environmental crises and our own. Informed by scientific models predicting what Montana's climate will look like in the future, the design team created a set, costumes, props, and music that spoke to the directorial concept which drew links between tyranny within a kingdom and tyranny within our ecosystem.
This paper follows the production from the concept and design stage, through the rehearsal process, and onto the road where Macbeth was staged in significantly different communities. My analysis acknowledges the ways in which the concept failed to be communicated clearly to most of the people who watched it, necessitating a reappraisal of the challenges of mounting an environmentally themed Shakespeare production. On the other hand, the production succeeded in unexpected ways, illuminating Macbeth's emphasis upon the violence done to future generations and highlighting the witches' engagement with times past, present, and future.