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Despite weather, show must go on for ‘Macbeth’ production

The student cast of Macbeth showcases the talents of one scholarship winner.

Many in the theater world know it’s bad luck to utter the name “Macbeth” inside a theater. 

Daniel Kern, theater professor at Temple, said he is prepared to see the showcase of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” through its finale on Saturday despite battling snow, absences and what he called a long-standing bad luck tradition surrounding the play within Temple Theaters, specifically.

“The show is intense,” said Kern, who is directing the play. “It was written with a commercial point of view, to sell tickets, so it should be an exciting piece.”

Kern has not directed this production before, but said he’s confident in the student-actors he chose to fill the famous roles. Auditions were held before Thanksgiving and rehearsal began on Jan. 13, a week before spring semester classes started.

The show, which has 26 actors and about 30 technical or managing assistants, has been pulled together in about a month. The first show took place on Feb. 14. It runs two hours with a 15-minute intermission. Admission for students with an ID is $5 or $20 for general admission.

While the cast is made up of mostly theater students, Kern said students from any college within Temple are encouraged to audition for Temple productions if they have interest in acting.

“We put on musicals as well,” Kern said, “Often we get a lot of really great music students from Boyer [College of Music and Dance] to help out.”

Senior theater major Isabella Fehlandt, who is playing Lady Macduff, is a recent winner of the Kunal & Neha Nayyar Scholarship. Temple alumnus Kunal Nayyar, a professional actor who can be seen playing Raj Koothrappali on “The Big Bang Theory,” established the scholarship to support student-actors with financial need pursue their undergraduate degree in theater.

Fehlandt received $10,000 of the $125,000 that was donated to the university, which she said has allowed her to continue her undergraduate degree after her father passed away just three weeks before her first semester at Temple. The death created financial instability along with a tragic loss, but she said she no longer worries about being able to afford education.

Fehlandt said she has been involved with productions at Temple since transferring from Delaware County Community College two years ago, where she received an associate’s degree. There, she had her first experience with Shakespeare in “Much Ado About Nothing,” under the direction of Stephen Patrick Smith.

Fehlandt danced in last fall’s production of “Oklahoma!” and she said she is excited to be working with Kern in “Macbeth.”

“[Kern] has been very adamant about the text in the show,” Fehlandt said. “Not just performing it, but figuring out what it really means, the connotation behind the words.”

Shakespeare, as Fehlandt said, may bring up memories of high school English classes for some, but Fehlandt said that isn’t the best way to become acquainted with his work.

“[Shakespeare] wasn’t meant to be read, he was meant to be seen onstage,” Fehlandt said. “I like to change the audiences’ minds about what they thought they knew about Shakespeare.”

Dan Kern said that “Macbeth” productions often have bad luck. | Luis Fernando Rodriguez TTN

Dan Kern said that “Macbeth” productions often have bad luck. | Luis Fernando Rodriguez TTN

In the university’s history of performing “Macbeth,” Kern said Temple has an “unfortunate tradition” of bad luck. Many rehearsals have been rescheduled or canceled due to dangerous weather.

“It’s been less than ideal,” Kern said, “But [the show] will be ready.”

Also recalling the show’s bad luck, Fehlandt said that one day when the cast came for a rehearsal, all of the tape used for blocking had disappeared overnight.

“Some people are very [concerned] about the curse,” Fehlandt said.

She also said two members of the technical crew were injured while making the set.

Fehlandt said she plans to continue acting in Philadelphia for a short time after graduation to continue building her résumé, but eventually she will go to New York City for auditions.

While she also plans to audition for graduate schools, Fehlandt said it’s not something she wants to pursue directly after her upcoming graduation. She said she’s been considering moving to Los Angeles to work on her television and commercial skills, too.

“I would love to do the Los Angeles study abroad session to get the experience of living there, with the safety net of Temple behind me,” Fehlandt said.

Paige Gross can be reached at paige.gross1@temple.edu. 

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