By ANGIE CARNATHAN
The Aquila Theatre Company of New York will perform “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare at the Mississippi State University Riley Center in Meridian tonight at 7:30 p.m.
Members of the Shackouls Honors College, some honors English students and members of MSU President Mark Keenum’s Leadership Class are riding shuttles from MSU to the Riley Center to see the legendary tragedy.
“Dr. Keenum thought it would be great to offer some of the honors students and members of his leadership class the chance to ride the shuttle over to the Riley Center in Meridian to see one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays performed by a professional company,” said MSU Executive Director of External Affairs Kyle Steward.
The play, famous for the opening line, “Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn, and cauldron bubble,” is one of Shakespeare’s most thrilling and mysterious tragedies.
Although it is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, it manages to weaves a deceptive web of murder, witchcraft, hallucinations, sleep-walking and a young woman’s loss of reality, leading to her suicide.
The Aquila Theatre Company has performed plays since 1991. Its tour of “Macbeth” began in October and will travel across the nation until the end of March 2012. Its contemporary take on the play emphasizes the complex relationships that swirl around Macbeth’s descent into madness and murder.
There is an old theater rumor that people believe the play is cursed and won’t speak its title, instead calling it such names as “the Scottish play.”
Although she said she can’t speak to the validity of the curse, MSU Communication and Theatre Professor Donna Clevinger said all Shakespeare plays represent challenges for the performers, but “MacBeth” is definitely one of the most challenging.
“‘MacBeth’ is one of the more difficult tragedies to perform,” Clevinger said. “You have to perform ghosts, it has a lot of very intense emotional and physical scenes, and of course, you have to be able to get comfortable with the language.”
Clevinger said that although it’s a dark and in some ways depressing play, it is still an audience favorite.
“It’s a tragedy, so it’s a very dark, but it is also very exciting for the audience to witness the lies and deceptions and family drama that goes on,” Clevinger said.
The play has long won critical acclaim wherever it is performed.
“The mark of any decent production of ‘Macbeth’ is that it should send shivers of fear racing down the spine,” said Charles Spencer of The Telegraph.
Tickets are $28 and $22 at the MSU Riley Center box office, which is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.msurileycenter.com  or by calling the box office at 601-696-2200.