“Hey Lovers, we want HATERS. Know someone who thinks theatre is boring? Irrelevant? Thinks Shakespeare is for old people? We want those people at our show.”
Not your typical theatre plug but there is nothing ‘typical’ about The Danger Ensemble. I love me some thinking-outside-of-the-all-the-boxes-marketing strategies. The Danger Ensemble is really embracing the age of social media; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and they even created a Spotify playlist. These efforts to publicise Macbeth are on point, completely relevant and actually make me intrigued and want to go see some Shakespeare. But before I head off to opening night this Thursday I wanted to sit down with Artistic Director Steven Mitchell Wright and ask him a few questions.
Steven, rumor has it you love a good coffee. Where in Brisbane is your favourite cup of joe?
At the moment The Boys in Kelvin Grove. It’s across the road from the theatre, they provide good chat and on really tired days I barely have to say my order out loud.
You’ve toured your shows around the world. What is different/unique/special about performing a show in Brisbane?
There is a unique language in Brisbane, I think there is an immediacy to the work and a visceral/physical quality that is special. I am unsure if that comes from the climate or the spaces we work in or the history here, likely a combination of all of those. Brisbane has supported me and my career tremendously and I feel lucky to have grown here and cut my teeth here (with Zen Zen Zo before starting The Danger Ensemble) and to have such a strong network of trained and intelligent artists still looking to create, continue to explore and push form here. In general, I think the standard of work in Brisbane is really high.
In five words can you describe The Danger Ensemble’s Macbeth?
Tender. Compassionate. Playful. Difficult. Surprisingly-funny.
Why Macbeth and why now?
That’s like asking why Beethoven’s 2nd to an orchestra? A lot of interview questions like this seem to be attempting to steer my answer toward saying Donald Trump and that is not my answer. There is a reference or two in there to some world leaders but to me great art is not about politics, not in the Pauline-Hanson-Donald-Trump-Right-Wing-Fascist-Don’t-Get-M e-Wrong-I-think-they-are-WRETCHED-way, but for me art is about the reason politics is important. Art is about the reason we fight against people who take away human rights, theatre is about being human and as cliche as this may sound.. making theatre, particularly in these times is a radical political act in and of itself. It’s a radical act of hope, no matter how dark the content.
Traditionally Macbeth is a predominantly male cast; yet your cast is made up mostly with women. What made you decide to reverse the roles?
I saw no reason to keep it as all men. I have no interest in just having women being subservient to a male narrative. Why can’t a woman take down Macbeth, why can’t a woman sit on the throne after him? I don’t really like to be too rigid with gender rules at the best of times.
Let’s talk fashion. I’m so freaking pumped to see the costumes by designer Arnavaz Lindsay. From what I have seen it looks like a full blow Couture runway show! For all those fashion lovers out there; what can we expect?
Arnavaz and I have been collaborating on the work and she brings a beautiful couture aesthetic and has been heavily focussed on the witches looks. Overall the work is very eclectic and I’ve been trying to keep the aesthetic surprising even for myself. I think I have a tendency to want things to be beautiful all the time, but this world isn’t beautiful all the time. The world of Macbeth is strange and in our production the different spaces are not necessarily in agreement with each other but drawing on a few different worlds: “Shakespeare”, the 80’s and a childish play world. I’d love to say that it looks like Gareth Pugh vs Alexander McQueen on a date with Betsy Johnson but that’s setting expectations very high.
Post show where can we find The Danger Ensemble’s local hang out for a beer, cocktail or a sneaky round of shots?
I quit drinking so I’m out of the loop and it’s an epic show for the actors so they’ll likely be recovering. In their downtime though you might catch them for a cocktail at The Menagerie?
The Danger Ensemble’s Macbeth opens this Thursday 9th February and promises to be perfect for all the lovers & the haters.