Performances begin at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, June 29-July 14, at Amador Valley Community Park on the corner of Santa Rita Road and Black Avenue. Audience members are welcome to bring blankets and picnics to enjoy the free professional theater under the stars.
"Macbeth" is memorable for its suspenseful plot and thrilling scenes of witchcraft and swordplay, and is regarded as one of the Bard's major tragedies, along with "Hamlet," "Othello" and "King Lear."
Audiences will recognize Macbeth's famous soliloquies, including "Is this a dagger which I see before me?" and "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow," as well as the witches' rhyme, "Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble."
"Macbeth" is often referred to by actors as "The Scottish Play" and "The Bard's Play" because of the long-standing theatrical superstition that speaking the name Macbeth inside a theater will cause disaster. Known as the "Scottish curse," it is believed to come from reports of calamities during productions dating all the way back to Shakespeare's time.
Some claim that the source is the witches' curses; others that the traditionally high cost of staging the play curses the production company. A fun theory is that Shakespeare himself stole a cauldron for the first performance from some revengeful witches who then cast a spell on the play. Shakespeare only began to refer to the play as "that Scottish play" after learning the James I, whose Scottish heritage he was trying to celebrate, did not enjoy it.
Michael Ray Wisely, who has appeared here in 2003, 2006 and 2012, returns as Macbeth. Emily Jordan, also a veteran of the Pleasanton stage, plays Lady Macbeth. Ryan Tasker is Macduff. Kenneth Kelleher returns to direct his 11th Shakespeare in the Park with SF Shakes.
Wisely and his wife Wendy McGlothlin worked with Pleasanton's Children's Theater Workshop and its founding director Andy Jorgensen, and continued as company members for another five years.
This year the kids Bay Area Shakespeare Camp program is all about "Macbeth," too, with shows on the final day of camp, which in Pleasanton runs July 22- Aug. 2.
For more information, call the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival at (415) 558-0888 or visit www.sfshakes.org.