Thursday – Saturday, November 28 through December 28, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 15, 2 p.m.
This Thanksgiving, your turkey won’t be the only thing that got put through the heat and emerged greater than it was before.
Theatre B opens the world premier of the comedy “Scrooge Macbeth” Thursday after months of extensive work alongside the play’s author, Michigan-based writer David MacGregor. The play, a Shakespeare-Christmas mashup set in a community theatre, is part of the Theatre’s ongoing Incubator Series, which develops and debuts new works from playwrights.
“Scrooge Macbeth” director David Wintersteen described the process of working with MacGregor as “extraordinary,” mainly because of how closely he collaborated with company members and cast on successive drafts of the script.
“With the first two (Incubator Series productions), the playwright had already moved on so the script was fixed, both legally and creatively,” Wintersteen said, “but David was open to be part of an ongoing relationship. He sent the script in a raw form; I was the first person who saw the script in a state where he was comfortable having someone read it.”
From there, MacGregor worked directly with the cast on rewriting sections that needed it or, as Wintersteen said, fixing parts of the script that simply didn’t work with things like costume changes.
Both Wintersteen and MacGregor acknowledged that Theatre B needed a production at the end of this process, but they also needed a tested and completed script that worked for MacGregor. This meant a certain amount of creative give and take and confidence in each other.
“It can degrade the quality of the work if you don’t have people who are willing to challenge each other a little bit,” MacGregor said. “It can be a bit discomforting, but the best people I’ve worked with aren’t afraid to have their buttons pushed and be challenged.”
“We’re working at a level of mutual respect, where everyone is on the train to the same destination, making this play as good as it can be,” MacGregor added.
A real success for both the process and the production, Wintersteen said, is to have audiences not be able to sense that this collaboration took place.
“The process shouldn’t be exposed, although I know there are some things in the script because of the work the actors have done,” Wintersteen said. “It’s like we have a tailor-made suit, but great actors in future productions can take a character not made for them and wear it like their own.”
With the input they’ve given and trials the Theatre B cast has put the script through, MacGregor is hoping for a comedy in the vein of another of his plays, “Vino Veritas.” In it, two couples make startling revelations to each other under the influence of a wine that acts as a truth serum, offering laughs along with poignant observations on our deepest-held convictions about our relationships. The play, which was performed by Theatre B in 2010, has recently been adapted into a feature film.
“Comedy has a way of opening you up to feelings and ideas that you would normally reject or be closed off to. What this play and ‘Vino Veritas’ have in common is people’s everyday relationships rocked by these exciting incidents. The masks drop because they don’t have the energy to keep them up,” MacGregor said.
MacGregor added that the process of working with a playwright shows a theatre operating at its fullest potential.
“A lot of theatres want to do something known and populist, something that their audience will recognize and come to, and it’s very safe. You have where Theatre B has been, seeking out newer, edgier material and challenging themselves and the audience. And then you have where the are now, which is in developing new material, which takes some faith and cajones.”
Video via Theatre B.