“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare and “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: these are two dramatic plays with tragic endings, but since they were written 300 years apart, they are not often combined.
Yet these are the two plays chosen by the touring theater company Aquila Theater to perform several days in a row at the Historic Holmes Theater in Detroit Lakes. “Macbeth” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday March 12, while “Gatsby” will be presented on a Sunday matinee on March 13 at 2 p.m.
Aquila’s visit to the community is funded, in part, by a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Legacy Amendment.
“I am thrilled to bring the Aquila Theater to Detroit Lakes,” said Amy Stoller Stearns, executive director of the Holmes. “With the pandemic and all the challenges that come with it, it’s been a very long time since we’ve been able to have a professional theater company from New York on our stage. Aquila is a unique group as they travel with both shows. .. So that’s why we have ‘Macbeth’ on Saturday night and ‘Great Gatsby’ on Sunday afternoon.”
Desiree Sanchez, executive artistic director of the Aquila Theater, said she looks forward to bringing her company to Detroit Lakes.
Although the two plays chosen by the group for their touring shows this year were written a long time ago – Shakespeare wrote “Macbeth” in 1623, while Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” came out in 1925 – their themes seemed “oddly relevant” in a modern context and worked well together, Sanchez said.
The tragedy of “Macbeth”, she explained, clearly illustrates “the depravity of a lust for power, and how, when we aim only for a superficial goal, outside of what is really important – the community and the sense of family, and the obligation to help fellow human beings – it’s very disturbing, both for the people who aim to achieve this goal and for everyone around them.”
“The Great Gatsby,” meanwhile, is “a story that needs to be told now,” Sanchez added. “I think it’s very interesting that people assume it’s going to be a story about the 1920s, and the glitz and the glamor… (but) it really is an American tragedy.”
The themes it explores, like equality and “insiders versus outsiders,” are hugely relevant today, she said, and very relevant to most people, even as the story unfolds. in a glamorous context of wealth and privilege on a very low level of experience.
These two works and their related themes will be explored in depth at a special “Behind the Story” preview event scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 6 in the Holmes Art Cellar.
Led by local actress and teacher Lorraine Bahr – a stage and screen veteran – the two-hour event is intended to be an informal discussion rather than a formal presentation.
“I see it as relaxed and fun conversation,” Bahr said, adding that they “probably have some snacks” on hand for the chat as well.
“I thought we could read a few scenes from each play aloud,” Bahr said, adding that if those planning to attend have their own copies of the scripts for one or both plays, they should bring them. “There’s no need to play, just read aloud together.”
There is no admission fee to attend the March 6 event and a limited number of free tickets are also available for Aquila shows.
“We really want people to attend, so if there are any financial barriers, please don’t let that get in the way,” Stearns said. “Through the grant, we’re providing free tickets to area high school students, but we’d be happy to extend this to others as well, if needed.”
What: “Macbeth” and “The Great Gatsby” by Aquila Theater
When: “Macbeth” — 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12; “Gatsby” — 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13; “Behind the Story” preview discussion – 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 6.
Or: Historic Holmes Theater, 806 Summit Ave., Detroit Lakes
How? ‘Or’ What: There is no charge to attend the March 6 discussion; tickets for each show are $25 for adults and $12.50 for students, with a limited number of free tickets available for each. Call the Holmes box office at 218-844-7469 or visit dlccc.org/holmes-theatre.html for more information.