In a daring experiment, the works of William Shakespeare come to life at Innovative Works through a creative collaboration with UNC Charlotte.
Award-winning choreographer Stephanie Martinez pairs with the playwright, theatre and dance historian Dr. Lynne Conner to explore Shakespeare’s leading female characters in their new work.
Most striking from Stephanie and Lynne’s collaborative work is the first thing an audience member notices: the title. Unsex Me Here comes from Lady Macbeth’s line from Macbeth Act I, scene 5:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
of direst cruelty. Make thick my blood.
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it!
Lady Macbeth is calling upon the gods to be released from the boundaries of feminine behavior so she can act ruthlessly. In other words, she wants to be released from the gender norms of her time in order to do what she needs to do.
Stephanie and Lynne were interested in drawing parallels between gender issues in Shakespeare’s time and the current social climate around gender. Even in this small excerpt from Macbeth, it isn’t difficult to imagine that Shakespeare wrote it for today’s culture.
Unsex Me Here explores gender roles, gender fluidity, gender misconduct and cultural codes for masculinity and femininity within the context of the behavioral expectations for men and women. They chose four couples from four of Shakespeare’s most popular plays to delve into their gender roles within their relationships.
Lady Macbeth (Alessandra Ball James) is the ambitious, ruthless wife of Macbeth. She is eventually driven mad as a result of her self-loathing after she realizes the full weight of the horrible crimes she has committed in the name of ambition. In her famous monologue, she is trying to wipe off some imagined blood left on her hand after she helped her husband murder the king.
Macbeth (Drew Grant) is a brave, arrogant and uneasy soldier who uses his reputation from war to become powerful. It is unsure whether he is actually ambitious or just a pawn in the hands of four women (three witches and Lady Macbeth), but it is clear that he doesn’t really want to murder the king. After he steps into power, he can’t handle the weight of this crime conscience.
Juliet (Sarah Hayes Harkins) is young, sensual and willful as she falls in love with Romeo at the tender age of 14. In an effort to escape an arranged marriage with an older man, she dives into her relationship with Romeo. Her resolve to be with him is both beautiful and heartbreaking.
Romeo (Ben Ingel), who is fickle, enthusiastic and sentimental, begins as a playboy type, quickly moving from one passionate obsession to the next. Juliet is simply the next girl in line until they talk over the balcony and something deeper stirs inside of him, pushing him towards greater maturity.
Titania (Sarah Lapointe) is the Queen of the Fairies, making her very imperial, egotistic and passionate. She is married to Oberon, the King of the Fairies, but is often fighting with him. Titania is queen for a reason: she is beautiful, full of life and utterly self involved.
Bottom (Peter Mazurowski) is a simple weaver by trade with a flair for amateur theatricals. Oberon places a spell on him and gives him the head of a donkey in order to play a joke on Titania (who is a given a potion to fall in love with the donkey). Bottom doesn’t understand the joke, but really enjoys all the attention he gets from Titania.
Kate (Amelia Sturt-Dilley) is the innkeepers oldest daughter, and very hard to marry off because she of her strong-mindedness and want for independence. She is in danger of becoming an old maid until she meets Petruchio.
Petruchio (James Kopecky) agrees to marry Kate because of her substantial dowry. He likes that she’s tempestuous and enjoys the game of “getting her under control.” He continually messes with Kate’s head, like making her agree with everything he says no matter how ridiculous. By the end of the play, he has basically tamed Kate. Sigh.
All these characters, storylines and emotions come together in Stephanie’s work to explore women’s roles in Shakespeare. See these historical, yet relevant, character dynamics at Innovative Works along with a new ballet by Peter Chu exploring the mental development of Hamlet.
Join us to witness the culmination of this innovative collaboration and experience Shakespeare’s enduring tales in a fresh, provocative way.
• Tickets include a dessert reception with the dancers and artistic staff following the show.
• Free parking is available.
• The 200-seat theater provides the perfect venue for a truly unique experience.