Shakespeare, Al Fresco

Smith Street Stage brings Macbeth to Carroll Park.

Smith Street Stage is back for round two of Shakespeare in . In their inaugural season, the company put on the perennial favorite, "Romeo and Juliet." But the company wanted to take a greater risk.

"This year is more intense because it's "Macbeth," said Artistic Director Beth Anne Leone, 33.

Nine actors will perform in the streamlined version of the play, which runs July 13 -24 at 7 p.m. with a performance each night but the 18th.

Leone and director Jonathan Hopkins both rely heavily on the words of a play, and tend to present theatre with minimal costumes and sets. Performing outside lends itself well to this type of theatre, said Leone.

"We are passionate about the guts and roots of the play," said Leone. "The drama is there in the story, in the words."

Indeed, especially with Shakespeare, the drama is in the story.

Leone adds that performing in the park is what makes the Smith Street Stage productions so exciting.

"There will be people with iPod's or strollers who go straight through the play. it's amazing," she said. "But some of the best moments last year were not planned."

Leone explained one of those moments - a toddler wandered into a scene.

"He sat down, and the actor starts talking to him as if he was part of the play. The little kid starts laughing ... It was so great," she said. "We do our best to control the space and yet these are the most magical moments."

The performances are free, and therefore the audience is always mixed, with people dropping in and out.

"There are definitely people who show up with their picnics, and they're there for the night," said Leone. "But then there are the people who come off the subway and just wander in."

The performance also features live music.


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