The Oct. 8 showing of “Macbeth” at the Edward Simonsen Outdoor Theatre on Friday evening was not an event to miss by any means. Bakersfield College celebrated its 37th Annual Kern Shakespeare Festival with one of William Shakespeare’s spookiest plays with a new adaptation, rife with interesting changes and choices that surprised even the English majors in the audience thanks to director and lead actor of the titular character, Brian J. Sivesind.
Members of the audience familiar with “Macbeth” who were expecting a mere three witches were happily—or unhappily, depending on how amiable they were to being led by the actors to the edge of their seat in suspense—surprised when there were instead 12 witches taking the stage all at once!
Each of the actors excelled in all aspects, owning the stage as well as delivering Shakespeare’s speeches—notably the actress playing Lady Macbeth (Cody Ganger) did not react outwardly at all when the campus bell chimed repeatedly during her character’s most famous speech, she only continued on with her well-practiced lines with grace, seemingly effortlessly.
Those who attended the play were likely struck by the ambience that was present that night—what excellent planning that the Scottish tragedy was scheduled for a cold night that was so dreary that the weather forecast warned the event could be canceled in the event of rain. Not to mention how the stage lighting and music truly set the scenes and helped carry the performance in a truly unexpected but welcome way.
The almost haunting piano music that set the stage as the audience took their seats permeated the play, this aided scene transitions and further instilled the play’s important setting and time period into the audience.
Shakespeare’s plays are often regarded as timeless and after reading the text one can easily argue this, yet it is the stage adaptations that truly sell this point as actors dedicate themselves to delivering long speeches with layers upon layers and dual meanings.