French actor and stage director Georges Bigot is presenting a modern adaptation of Macbeth in Chicago until December 4, 2016. Renowned for his role at the Théâtre du Soleil in Paris in the 1980s, Bigot has been working on this Shakespearian project for the last year with a local company called Theatre Y.
France-Amérique: How did you begin working with Theatre Y?
Georges Bigot: Around ten years ago, the American playwright and director Christopher Markle invited me to give a theatre masterclass at Northern Illinois University, where he was teaching. The actor Melissa Lorraine attended one of my classes. She got back in touch in 2015 to offer me a job as artistic director at Theater Y, the theatre company she had founded with Christopher Markle in 2006.
You successfully united Theatre Y and created a solid, close-knit company. How did you do it?
There was no team spirit when I arrived. Everyone on stage acted individually, not as a group. There is not the same tradition of theatre companies in Chicago, or the United States in general, that there is in France. Freelance actors are not used to working together, and they all have another day job. When it comes to stage acting, Americans also tend to be individualist, and rather self-restrained. For Macbeth, 18 actors aged between 11 and 63 from very different social backgrounds had to make themselves available, work as a team, and put on a more aggressive performance. This really contributed to bringing them all together.
Why did you choose to revisit Macbeth?
I was walking through the streets of Chicago one day in October 2015. You could feel Halloween was almost upon us, and I remembered that Celtic mythology views this celebration as a time for reflecting on death. There was also an increasing amount of media attention surrounding the U.S. presidential elections. These two events made me think of Macbeth: the ambition that devours the main character is so intense that it drives him to kill King Duncan. He commits regicide, an unthinkable act! Tortured by his guilt and paranoia, he goes mad.
Was it also a way of drawing a comparison with the battle for the White House?
The Macbeth couple are very much like both Hillary and Bill Clinton, and Donald and Melania Trump. The drama of Macbeth makes us face our deepest fears, and shows the ways in which they are manipulated and exploited by political powers. The resemblance is striking!
At the Chopin Theater, Chicago, IL
Through Decembre 4, 2016