The 9th year of the Summer Shakespeare Festival will have a new classic play, the tragedy of Macbeth. The festival is ongoing until August 8 on the western terrace of Bratislava Castle, in the courtyard of Zvolen Castle in central Slovakia and on Main Street in Košice. The head of the festival, Jana Zednikovičová, told the SITA newswire that she was fascinated by the story of Macbeth when she first saw it as opera performance, adding that for her, it is a dramatic and passionate play about love which becomes the basis for even murder. Slovak and Czech actors Veronika Freimanová, Milan Ondrík, Martin Nahálka, Marián Slovák, Juraj Kemka, Robert Jakab, and Lukáš Latinák will perform, among many others.
Macbeth is staged by well-known director Ondrej Spišák who was inspired by his earlier experience in directing King Lear in Nitra to cast Milan Ondrík from that city in the role of Macbeth. Lady Macbeth will be acted by Veronika Freimanová, a Czech actress 20 years older than Ondrík. Spišák explained that he wanted Macbeth to be fascinated and influenced by the beauty of an older woman who shows him the way and takes care of him – somewhat like being his mother.
Although Macbeth has earned a reputation of being a “cursed” drama, bringing bad luck to all people involved in its performances, Zednikovičová challenged this and said that the only inconvenience she has had was that her car ran out of fuel.
This year the festival includes 36 performances in Slovakia, with 30 in Bratislava, three in Zvolen and three in Košice. In addition to Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor will have a premiere in Bratislava, first prepared for the Prague Shakespeare festival by Oscar-winning Czech director Jiří Menzel. The festival will also include a repeat of last year’s Antony and Cleopatra, featuring Slovak director Michal Vajdička with performances by Henrieta Miškovicová, Ján Koleník and Ľuboš Kostelný.
A special event at Bratislava Castle will be the Comedy of Errors, directed by Peter Gábor and performed by actors from Ostrava in the Czech Republic. As You Like It, starring Marián Labuda in the double-character role, will be performed as well in Košice. A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be staged in both Zvolen and Bratislava with Martin Dejdar, Soňa Norisová and Jan Teplý from the Czech Republic in leading roles.
The idea to use theatres’ summer break schedules to stage Shakespearean plays was born in the Czech Republic but it has since spread to Slovakia thanks to Marián Zednikovič. In 2002, the festival first came to the courtyard of Bratislava Castle, and since 2005, Slovak performances have been added to those from the Czech Republic. After Zednikovič’s death, Jana Zednikovičová became the head of the festival.