Preview: ‘Macbeth’ at Celebration Arts

Macbeth: Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm; Through 7/6; No cover; Celebration Arts, 2727 B Street; (916) 455-2787;

Celebration Arts makes its first foray into Shakespeare with a staged reading of Macbeth, adapted by returning director Khimberly Marshall. It is the beginning of a five-year Macbeth Project, which will see the play re-adapted each year as Celebration Arts partners with different community organizations. The first full production, planned for 2020, will pair with local West African drum and poetry groups to bring Marshall’s concept to life.

Marshall brings her classical training and deep love of Macbeth to this Afro-futurist reimagining of Shakespeare’s tale of ambition. Marshall draws on African history and folklore alongside nontraditional gendered casting to open up new themes in the familiar play. How does Macbeth change when we bring the text into a culture that values female warriors, or where connection to ancestors has real impact on one’s fate?

According to Marshall, this production and the larger Macbeth Project signify a desire to return Shakespeare to popular audiences. “[Shakespeare] was for the common man. It was for the whole of society” she says. “It’s become isolated in this upper echelon of the theatre world. Our goal is to bring it back to the people.”

Board member Karen “KT” Travis says the huge turnout at auditions validated the company’s decision to embark on classics such as Shakespeare. “There are people who are really interested in Shakespeare, they want to learn Shakespeare—and the fact that they want to learn is exciting.”