By Kaylen Ayres '25
Roanoke College’s production of “Mac Beth” has been selected for inclusion at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. “Mac Beth,” written by Erica Schmidt, is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” Theatre Roanoke College (TRC) will take the entire production with actors, crew, costumes, sets and props to Albany, Georgia, from Feb. 6-10, 2024.
But first, TRC will reprise the show for one night only on the Roanoke campus. That performance will take place Saturday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Olin Hall Theater. For more information about the pre-festival performance, click here.
“Getting this recognition and invitation to KCACTF is a big deal for our program,” said Nelson Barre, assistant professor of fine arts. “They only selected four productions from hundreds of shows in our region, and we get to share our show at the festival. It's a testament to the high quality of work that the students and faculty/staff are doing here. I couldn't be prouder to collaborate with these amazing artists both onstage and off.”
The same, all-female cast that first staged the show at Roanoke on April 19-22, 2023, will perform at the theater festival. That includes Mary Langan ’26 as Witch 1, Natalie Arnold ’26 as Witch 2, Erin Trost ’24 as Witch 3, Kennedy Swineford ’26 as Macbeth, Hannah Pluim ’24 as Banquo, Emy Hampton ’24 as Lady Macbeth and Hunter Gall ’26 as Macduff.
Swineford said reprising her role as the titular character comes with both challenges and rewards.
“One of my favorite parts of doing this show for the first time was being able to get into the shoes of such an iconic character, which is also one of the hardest parts,” Swineford said. “To some degree, nearly everyone is familiar with this show, which can feel like a lot of pressure. I feel lucky that I got to tell this story once, let alone a second time for an even larger audience.”
Roanoke is in Region IV of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, with about 200-300 productions submitted each year. The submissions get whittled down to 40-50 participating productions, and that list is further cut to 10-15, then to a final selection of three to six productions. These represent the best of the best in collegiate theater in the region from that calendar year, and “Mac Beth” was one of those chosen to bring the production to the festival.
“Coming from a small school and a small theater program, it feels incredibly cool and validating,” Swineford said. “I am so excited that other students will get to see our work and see what Theatre Roanoke has been up to. This play, by nature, is edgy and different, and it really sets our program apart. Showcasing that on a larger scale is a huge honor.”