Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” meets TV’s “Unsolved Mysteries” in Everett Community College’s production of “Tudor Truth and Jacobean Justice: True Crime Shakespeare.”
Students at the college will perform EvCC’s first-ever virtual theater production Nov. 12-14 and 19-21 via Zoom.
The play is presented in the style of a Robert Stack-era “Unsolved Mysteries,” in which the murders of “Macbeth” are examined with witness testimony, reenactments of the scenes of the crimes and an evolving theory behind the fictional Scottish king’s motive.
“Anyone who loves Shakespeare is going to love watching it because there are all these little hints to the story, but then also it’s a really good episode of ‘Unsolved Mysteries,’” theater instructor Beth Peterson said.
In Shakespeare’s tragedy, Macbeth is a Scottish general under the rule of King Duncan. Three witches tell Macbeth that he will become king of Scotland. Macbeth, spurred by his own ambition and urged by his wife, murders Duncan and accedes to the throne.
Macbeth’s reign is a bloody and tyrannical one. There are no fewer than four murders in the play: King Duncan, Banquo, Lady Macduff and Macduff’s son.
“True Crime Shakespeare” is an interactive production. The audience is encouraged to help solve the mystery of “Macbeth.” Your mic will be muted during the show, but you can share your observations and ask questions via the Zoom chat function.
Peterson tapped Mandy Canales for the play’s inspiration. They met while working together on sketch comedy for SketchFest Seattle.
Canales — a self-described muderino — was watching a performance of “Macbeth” on the London stage a year ago when the idea for this play was sparked. Also an actor, director and playwright, Canales helped Peterson’s students develop her idea into an original production.
“Little did I know that a note made a year ago would inspire a fully online performance of a retelling of ‘Macbeth’ during a time when many people believed it impossible that theater could move forward due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Canales said, adding that she watches “Dateline” on TV and listens to the podcast “My Favorite Murders.”
Robert Stack was the host and narrator of TV’s mystery documentary show “Unsolved Mysteries” from 1987 to 2002. In each episode, Stack, known for his deep, commanding voice, reminds the audience they might be able to help solve a mystery before examining a cold case or paranormal activity. Viewers were invited to contact the show with tips about the unsolved cases.
“There’s this ’80s vibe to it,” Peterson said. “It’s been so much fun. We’ve had the students really delve deep into the play, and then they had to create all these side characters — the witnesses giving all this testimony.”
Peterson’s students modeled the play after the “Unsolved Mysteries” episode about the Son of Sam that aired in 1988. In 1977, a serial killer named David Berkowitz — aka Son of Sam — confessed to six murders in New York City. Did he act alone? There’s a theory that he didn’t.
“After they watched the episode of ‘Unsolved Mysteries,” it really clicked for them,” Canales said. “It was like, ‘Yes, I can see it!’”
Canales and Peterson direct the play. The cast includes Katie Becerril Maldonado, Canales, Tessa Denton, Tyler Garver, Neil Northrop, Troy Ogle and Peterson. The crew is made up of Christina Byrum and Sam Case.
The reenactments of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” were filmed on the Everett Community College campus. All other scenes are performed live from each actor’s home.
Peterson said her students were about to perform “Rumors” by Neil Simon when COVID-19 hit. The show had to be canceled.
“Winter and spring were the first time since I started at EvCC that I hadn’t had some kind of production on campus,” she said. “That was my goal when I first came to EvCC in 2000, was to have some kind of performance every term.”
Then Red Curtain in Marysville presented “Angels in America” via Zoom. After she was cast in the reader’s theater-style production, Peterson was inspired to take EvCC’s productions to Zoom, too.
“I hope a lot of students watch this and realize they’re still a part of a community, even though they haven’t been on campus in six months,” she said.
Go to everettcc.edu/theatre to request an audience mailer that will supplement the performance. The mailer will include a program, map of the murders, a cauldron, a witch toy, a glow-in-the-dark ball, a magnifying glass and more.
You can also watch a trailer for the play that mimics a TV commercial from the ’80s on the EvCC theater website.
The play includes mature content and is not recommended for children younger than 10.
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; email@example.com; @sarabruestle.
If you stream
An Everett Community College original, “Tudor Truth and Jacobean Justice: True Crime Shakespeare,” will be livestreamed 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12, 13, 14 and Nov. 19, 20 and 21 via Zoom. Free. Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” is performed in the style of TV’s “Unsolved Mysteries” in this live-interactive production. Visit www.everettcc.edu/theatre to access the Zoom link and watch the show.