SPARTA, NJ - Shakespeare and Company was welcomed into Sparta High School’s auditorium to perform Macbeth. The sophomore and junior classes attended the performance to compliment their study of Shakespeare in the classroom. The performance was followed by a question and answer session and an acting workshop for the theater students.  

The program was introduced by English Supervisor, Mary Hassenplug.  She explained the students were the recipients of a gift from an alumnus.  The performance and workshop opportunity was provided to the students by Sparta High School’s 1969 class and member of the ensemble’s Board of Trustees.

"We hope that visualizing the events of the play and seeing the portrayal of actions and consequences will make the reading of Macbeth in class a more fulfilling experience for our students,” said Hassenplug.

Sign Up for E-News

Shakespeare and Co. is a touring group from Lennox Massachusetts comprised of six actors that perfect two different Shakespearean classics and perform them up and down the east coast from Maine to Maryland.

This tragic tale focuses on Macbeth and his wife Lady Macbeth and their foretold prophecy of becoming King and Queen of Scotland. Macbeth is coerced by his wife to murder those ahead of him in line to the throne.  They are later haunted by visions and hallucinations of those they have killed. The play ends with Macbeth being killed by English forces coming to claim the crown.

Hassenplug said, "This production of Macbeth was an exclamation point after a weekend of comedy through the Sparta musical Shrek.  Balancing the comedy with the tragedy allows students to see the range of possibilities that theater has to offer."

After the performance the actors settled on the edge of the stage to engage the students.  They began their talk back with questions related to the play, seeking the opinion of the audience.  They offered questions like “Are the witches to blame?” “Seeing a play makes me feel alive.” “You cannot escape your destiny.” The students indicated their answers by standing, or not, in agreement to the statement.  A student was chosen to speak about the reason behind their answer.

Next the members of the audience asked questions of the actors.

A question was asked about how the actors chose to portray the characters, especially Lady Macbeth played by Kaileela Hobby. “Macbeth and Lady Macbeth have a strong love for each other and Lady Macbeth shouldn’t beat Macbeth into submission, Ambition for Macbeth is so strong,” said Hobby.  

Fellow actor Marcus Kearns, who played Macbeth added, “A powerful couple is so much more interesting.”

The students prompted the actors with great questions including how Shakespeare relates to so many audiences. “Shakespeare is one of the most universal things ever written. Whether it’s a Danish prince, a Scottish king, or a pair of Italian lovers, that’s why we love it,” said Conor Seamus Moroney, one of the performers in the company.

The workshop focused on the students developing their own form of theatrics. The actors led the students in a series of warm-up exercises before having them break up into small groups to work on sections of Macbeth with their own direction and perspectives. The small groups then came together to perform for each other.

Victoria Reed, the theater teacher at Sparta High School and owner of theater school Drama Geeks, raved about the performance and the experience for the students. “Any opportunity for students to see a live theatrical production is a valuable educational experience.  Having the company perform at our school allowed for a large number of students to benefit from such an experience.  And, the acting workshop offered afterward was an added bonus.  Teenagers were having conversations about Shakespeare and spouting poetry.  To me, as an educator, that's a pretty great day.”

"We are thankful for the generosity of our benefactor, Bill Ryan, who made this opportunity possible,” said Hassenplug. “Our students are richer for the experience of live theater."

Shakespeare and Co. is a touring group from Lennox Massachusetts comprised of six actors that perfect two different Shakespearean classics and perform them up and down the east coast from Maine to Maryland.