Vo Du Macbeth - Basin St. Station

VO-DU MACBETH
A Parable About Power in Two Acts
Created & Directed By Lenwood Sloan

Basin St. Station
July 1-4, 2015
By Invitation Only

ARTISTIC STATEMENTTHE VO-DU MACBETH

The Vo – Du Macbeth is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, based on the landmark 1936 WPA production created by Orson Welles and Virgil Thompson for the Harlem Lafayette Theater.

At the heart of my writing is a statement about the condition of man. And at the heart of my technique is the construction of characters that move back and forth from the vernacular to the transcendental.

The inspiration and foundation for the Vo Du Macbeth center on the development of a text and libretto that is elastic enough to support interdisciplinary collaboration and co-creation.

Across the decade since New Orleans first witnessed this work, over 200 actors have lent their voices and vision to the development of the script and libretto. The power, persuasion, and impact of oratory and choral speaking are groundwork for the play that I have created for the Basin Street Station cabaret performance.

The Vo-du Macbeth is a work about spirituality, identity, family, the constant struggle for power, the confusion of national identity, the thirst for leadership, passion and desire, and the perpetual presence of death. These elements combine with a site-specific installation, soundscape and imagery to inform the ritual drama. By setting the ritual during the winter solstice, and in the traditions and revels from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day, through to the charivari masquerade of 12th Night, I am simultaneously employing elements of Greek theater, theater in the round, cabaret intimacy, street theater and performance art.

The two-act evening balances the core elements of the classic Shakespearean drama with historical references regarding the struggle for identity between the gen de colour libre of the Quadroon Ballroom and the soulful and resourceful denizens of the Congo Plain. In short, we shift a timeless tale to a new paradigm. The 2015 – 10th anniversary production convenes a tremendous cast, crew, and musical ensemble, that pays homage to the spirit of collaboration which was the signature of the WPA phenomena while utilizing theater as a contemporary tool to facilitate a civic dialogue on race, culture and identity with participating audiences.

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