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Forest Grove High School performing arts department presents winter production, 'Macbeth.'

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Drama director John Anderberg instructs Adrianna Nunez during a rehearsal of 'Macbeth,' Forest Grove High School's winter production opening on Jan. 18. "Double, double, toil and trouble."

So begin the famous lines of three witches, who will be taking over the Forest Grove High School stage this month with a production of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth."

Opening Jan. 18 and running through Jan. 26, the performing arts department's performance follows the school's fall musical "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," a story much brighter than this classic tragedy.

But director and drama teacher John Anderberg said this is the perfect time to share "Macbeth" with audiences.

"It is timely with its political nature and power," Anderberg said. "Power can corrupt (and) be intoxicating. It can make you want more. One of the things we talked about is that in this play, unlike 'Hamlet,' where people act out of how they feel, Macbeth knows he is doing something wrong and he does it anyway for his own gain."

Macbeth, a general to the king, is told by witches he is destined to rule Scotland. Alongside his wife, Lady Macbeth, the pair experiences turmoil as he attempts to rise in the ranks.

With themes of deception and treachery, the idea who is good and who is bad is open to interpretation, Anderberg said.

"I tell the kids, history and the audience will judge the story," he said. "Lady Macbeth doesn't think she is awful, she thinks she is taking care of business. To the audience, (her actions) may come off as awful. Here, we want to ask the audience what they think."

High school senior Cali Reed, who plays Lady Macbeth, auditioned for the role because it is her favorite play, she said.

"In a lot of Shakespeare's plays, you see the males are in power. In this, it is female-led play," Reed said. "This is crazy coming from a man that wrote when it was unheard of. Shakespeare is really important. The political aspects of this play, today, is important to discuss."

STAFF PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Eighteen-year-old Katy Schlesser plays First Witch in Forest Grove High School's winter production of 'Macbeth,' playwright William Shakespeare's famous tragedy. Dozens of students are involved in the production, both in the cast and behind the scenes. Anderberg said everyone is pitching in to bring the tough production to life.

"They love it. It is fun for them to have new pieces to do," Anderberg said. "It is challenging and gives them something to sink into."

Senior Katy Schlesser plays First Witch, a role she wanted from the start and one she wanted to develop on her own terms, she said.

"We made a point to not overdo it," Schlesser said. "We wanted to take them seriously and portray them as what they are doing and not about what they look like."

To stray away from stereotypical textbook witches, the trio will not appear Halloween-like. Instead, the students have their costumes symbolize different elements, such as air, fire and water.

"Having the long noses and warts are cliché," Anderberg said. "It supports their story because of their connectedness to the world they can see and feel, and have sight and vision."

Performed around the globe for more than four centuries, the show's success comes from the traditions of stage fighting and over-the-top theatrics, Anderberg said, which promise to be an exciting fixture for the audience.

"People love the gore," Anderberg said. "The legend is, because of the fighting, it was a popular play to do. Most theater companies at the end of their seasons would need a money-maker. With the stage fighting, a lot of actors would get hurt. Over time, it became something that was scary to put on."

Performances will be at Forest Grove's Ellen Stevens Auditorium, 1401 Nichols Lane. Tickets to the two-hour production are $10 for adults and $7 for students at the door.

By Janae Easlon
Features Editor
Forest Grove News-Times and Hillsboro Tribune
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