The Tragedy of Macbeth
Director: Chris Mangels
College of the Sequoias Theatre
The Tragedy of Macbeth (2018)
by Gina Sandí Díaz
The 2018 College of the Sequoias’ production of The Tragedy of Macbeth reimagined Shakespeare’s story at the US-Mexico border. Set in contemporary times, this adaptation positions Macbeth as a Lieutenant Capitan in a U.S. strategic mission under the command of Lieutenant Colonel R.P Duncan “The King.” The law enforcement squad, conformed by men and women alike, are fighting Mexican drug cartels that threaten to infect U.S. territory with criminal activity. In this world, Macbeth is reimagined as a Mexican-American man in an interracial marriage while Shakespeare’s infamous ‘witches’ are depicted as haunting La Llorona apparitions. The 100-minute long show with no intermission ran October 12-21 in the College of the Sequoias’ Theatre in Visalia, CA.
The production was directed by Chris Mangels, who also adapted the script. In an interview for the Visalia Times, he estimated 80% of his production to be in original Shakespearean dialogue. He wrote the remaining 20% in iambic parameter. Mangels, who is a Professor of Theatre at the College of the Sequoias, created a culturally complex rendition of the classic tragic story, leading a highly ambitious project that demanded the coordination of approximately 40 different multimedia elements, mostly in the form of video projections and intrinsic sound effects. Many of the video projections interact directly with the live action unfolding on stage, demanding rigorous precision from actors, stage managers, and technical operators, alike.
Described as “a fast-paced thriller about the corrosive power of the cycle of violence,” the production effectively unveils the thirst for power that resides underneath the longstanding U.S.-Mexico war on drugs. Spanish-language dialogue is eloquently woven into the script, capturing the rich cultural exchange of what scholar Mary Louise Pratt calls ‘contact zones.’ These are geographical spaces where “cultures, meet, clash and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths as they are lived out in many parts of the world today.” Thus, setting The Tragedy of Macbeth in a contact zone adds an extra layer of complexity that allows for the exploration of identity in spaces where there are fluent exchanges of language, customs, and cultural practices.
The cast, a mixture of seasoned community actors and COS theatre majors offered a cohesive front of performance energy. Mason Beltran Garcia delivered a memorable interpretation of the ambitious Macbeth, equally matched by Britney Murris’ cunning portrayal of Lady Macbeth. The rest of the cast includeded Michael Taber as Duncan, Alex Quezada as Malcolm, Vanessa Bonnar as Donalbain, Owen Webb as Macdonwald, Nick Ray as Angus, Jennifer Rodriguez as Caithness, Michael Seitz as Macduff, Andrew Maximini Martinez as Banquo, Emily King as Seyton, Alexis Veronica Chavez as Lady Macduff, and Rory Martorana as baby Macbeth and baby Macduff.
The Tragedy of Macbeth production team:
Chris Mangels: Director / Fight Choreographer, Scenic Designer, Co-Projection Designer
Vanessa Lamb: Video Editor, Co-Projection Designer
Jordan Lamb: Video Editor, Co-Projection Designer
James McDonnell: Costume Designer, Hair Designer
Steve LaMar: Technical Director, Lighting Designer
Nick Terry: Assistant Technical Director, Sound Designer, Co-Projection Designer
Sophie Kirkpatrick: Make-up Designer
Alysha Curtis: Production Stage Manager
Hannah Parra: Assistant Stage Manager
 Ward, James. “This ambitious College of the Sequoias play transports 'Macbeth' to Mexican border”. The Visalia Times Delta. Oct. 11, 2018.
 Ward, James. Ibid.
 Pratt, Mary Louise. "Linguistic Utopias." The Linguistics of Writing. Ed. Nigel Fabb et al. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1987. 48-66.
 Pratt, 34.