Get out your cauldrons: Macbeth auditions approacheth

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By Kelly LeVan

Eric Bjorklund has a strange fantasy.

It begins with a production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” builds with Lee Blessing’s “Fortinbras,” continues its radical ascent with Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,” reaches a high pitch with the second half of The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s “The Complete Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)” and caps off with Paul Rudnick’s “I Hate Hamlet.”

Each play in Bjorklund’s fantasy theatre season is some variation of “Hamlet” – excepting “Hamlet” itself, of course – and the fact that Bjorklund thinks the lineup is a great idea, well, that is some variation of what he calls “my Shakespeare itch.”

This fall, the longtime Los Alamos Little Theatre actor and director will stage one of his favorites, and poor Ophelia won’t even have to die – though somebody certainly will.

It’s time for “Macbeth.”

“I’ve wanted to do this for a very, long time,” Bjorklund said.

Bjorklund started his Shakespeare career about 20 years ago, he said, acting in John Mench’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” After that, he worked five seasons with a group called “Shakespeare in Santa Fe.”

Then, “to scratch my Shakespeare itch,” he said, “I decided to start directing.”

He directed “12th Night” in 1999 and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in 2005. “Macbeth,” he said, will mark both his and LALT’s first “excursion into tragedy.”

While the play won’t hit the stage until Oct. 31, auditions are coming up fast. There will be two rounds: 7-10 p.m. July 28, 30 and 31; and then 7-10 p.m. Aug. 8, and 1-5 p.m. Aug. 9-10. Those interested in a part may go to either round.

Unlike a typical LALT audition, Bjorklund wants to schedule a 10- to 20-minute audition with each actor; that way, he said, the actors don’t have to wait for the entire three- or four-hour block, and he can get a “better feel” for how they read and what characters they might be best for.

He said he found this method of audition, which is fairly common in professional theater, very useful for his previous Shakespeare plays.

It will be quite a time commitment for Bjorklund; however, who hopes to speak with many actors and to find a big cast for “Macbeth.”

“I’m looking for everything – young, old, males, females,” he said. “I need youngish children and high-school age actors.”

He’s hoping to encourage less experienced Shakespeare actors to participate by double-casting many of the smaller roles, so that the actors’ rehearsal time – and stage fright – might be cut down.

Unless an actor is cast in a major role, he or she will probably only need to be at the theatre about once a week during rehearsals, Bjorklund said.

Rehearsals will start with a reading  Aug. 14. The first four to six weeks will primarily involve working with the language and discerning what the words mean.

While he will provide training on interpretation, he said he won’t teach the traditional Shakespearean British accent, which he doesn’t want for the show.

He stressed that those who are intimidated by Shakespeare need not be.

“Don’t be afraid of Shakespeare,” he said. “It’s not that bad and it’s a lot of fun.”

To schedule an audition, call Bjorklund at 662-5104 or 412-2775.