In April, Centre College audiences will travel to the craggy, storm-blown Scottish countryside, replete with murder, intrigue and prophecy, thanks to DramaCentre’s upcoming production of Macbeth. Complementing the performance, the English program is hosting renowned Shakespeare scholar Dr. Russ McDonald, who will give this year’s Bastian Lecture as well as participate in a panel discussion with Professor of Dramatic Arts Tony Haigh.
The student production of Macbeth will be performed April 23 through 26; in preparation for the event, McDonald will deliver the Bastian lecture, titled “’Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth:’ The Power of Poetry,” on Monday, April 14 at 7:30 p.m. in Vahlkamp Theatre.
“In the lecture, Russ will explore the multiple poetic effects that have contributed to the unfailing popularity of Macbeth for four centuries,” explains Charles J. Luellen Professor of English Mark Rasmussen. “Particularly, he’ll focus on the several forms of repetition—of sounds, of words, or rhythms and of ideas—which the playwright uses to beguile us.”
This will be McDonald’s second appearance on campus as Bastian lecturer; he first visited in 2010 (right).
“It’s a great honor and delight for the English program to welcome Russ McDonald back,” Rasmussen says. “He is without question one of the leading Shakespeare scholars today, an exciting presence on the critical scene and a particularly welcome presence at Centre because of the emphasis that he places on the language of the plays—on Shakespeare’s astonishing inventiveness with words.
“There is simply no one on the critical scene today who writes and speaks with more insight about Shakespeare as a literary craftsman,” he adds, “and it will be a treat for us to listen and learn from him again.”
The day after his lecture, McDonald will be participating in a panel discussion with Professor of Dramatic Arts Tony Haigh titled “’Something Wicked This Way Comes:’ Tony Haigh and Russ McDonald on Macbeth.” The discussion will be held from 11:20 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. in Newlin Hall. As moderator of the discussion, Rasmussen is keenly looking forward to a fruitful discussion of the play.
“Tony and Russ will discuss Shakespeare’s play, the particular challenges and opportunities that it provides for a director and cast and the choices that Tony made for his upcoming production,” he explains.
The discussion will be especially interesting for audience members who plan on attending the play the following week, including first-year students who are studying the play in their Humanities classes.
“A Shakespeare play offers a series of possibilities for production, and a director shapes his production by choosing among those possibilities,” Rasmussen notes. “This conversation between a Shakespeare critic and director will help those who go to the play understand more fully what has been involved in the artistic choices behind the production they see.”
Dr. McDonald teaches at Goldsmiths College at the University of London. Previously, he taught at University of North Carolina in Greensboro, where he was named the 2003 North Carolina Professor of the Year; he also spent a decade directing the Teaching Shakespeare Institute for secondary school teachers at the Folger Shakespeare Library. McDonald has published and edited many books on Shakespeare, including Shakespeare and the Arts of Language (2001) and Shakespeare’s Late Style (2010). His collection of 25 plays with contextualizing documents and images, The Bedford Shakespeare, co-edited with Lena Cowen Orlin, will appear in August 2014.
Learn more about the English and Drama programs at Centre.
By Mariel Smith