Macbeth mania! It’s the summer of blood

for The Brooklyn Paper
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It’s the summer of blood!

“Macbeth,” arguably one of Shakespeare’s most-violent plays, is getting two productions this month — and they’re running almost simultaneously to each other.

On July 13, the Smith Street Stage brings its own version of the Bard’s tragedy to Carroll Park, outside of the Parkhouse. Then, as that’s getting into a groove, the Gallery Players puts on its own version at its Park Slope theater starting July 21.

This “Macbeth” mania all began in April, when the Brooklyn Academy of Music did a minimalist production of the Bard’s tragedy during its spring season. Then the Bedford-Stuyvesant acting duo “Popeye and Cloudy” treated subway passengers to scenes from the famous play last month (losing a prized prop along the way).

For fans not sick of hearing “Out, damned spot!” yet, the current productions bring their own approach to the classic.

Smith Street Stage brings a bare-bones approach to the play — there’s no set, no microphones, not even any chairs for the audience (feel free to bring your own, though).

“We’re just using the park,” said artistic director Beth Ann Leone. “We really stripped it down. It’s more raw and real.”

The Gallery Players’ performance, meanwhile, features elaborate paintings for its set, a slew of sound effects that include clips from hard-rock music, and a lighting designer that will create eerie images with new technology.

The costumes will similarly combine periods, with elements of both modern and Shakespearian dress.

“The men will have an East Village punk kind of quality,” said producer Dominic Cuskern. “The costumes won’t look finished or designed, to suggest that it’s not a totally civilized society.”

The Smith Street Stage cast will be decked out in suits and cargo pants — but vague enough so that the costuming doesn’t belong to one specific time period, in an attempt to emphasize the timelessness of the famous story.

“The play can still relate to our sensibilities now, because a lot of the themes still exist for us,” said Leone. “Themes like revenge and betrayal, all that is still current.”

And this wouldn’t be a play about deadly greed without some choice weaponry. The Gallery Players go a more classic route, employing long metal swords, while the Smith Street Stage keeps it PG with daggers.

“We wanted it to be something that people can relate to, but not too dangerous,” said Leone. “We wanted it to be scary, but not too scary.”

So feel free to bring the kids.

“Macbeth” at Carroll Park (Smith Street between Carroll and President streets in Carroll Gardens, no phone), July 13-17 and 19-24 at 7 pm. Free. For info, visit; “Macbeth” at the Gallery Players [199 14th St. between Fourth and Fifth avenues in Park Slope, (718) 595-0547], July 21-31. Tickets $18, $14 for senior citizens and children 12 and under. For info, visit

Updated 5:25 pm, July 9, 2018
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