Shakespeare debut: Dr Tracey Harney, is preparing for the challenging role of Lady Macbeth in the upcoming production of Macbeth at Fort Hamilton. *Photo by Sarah Lagan
Shakespeare debut: Dr Tracey Harney, is preparing for the challenging role of Lady Macbeth in the upcoming production of Macbeth at Fort Hamilton. *Photo by Sarah Lagan

WEDNESDAY, SEP. 12: Tropical Storm Leslie gave local actor and singer Dr Tracey Harney the perfect opportunity to batten down the hatches and engross herself in her lines for the upcoming show Macbeth.

Dr Harney is to play the challenging role of Lady Macbeth in her first ever Shakespeare performance. The play, directed by John Zuill, is being performed in the beautiful setting of Fort Hamilton from next Thursday.

Lady Macbeth is wife to the Scottish general Macbeth (played by Danjou Anderson). She is responsible for plotting the murder of King Duncan so that her husband can take the throne.

Macbeth tells his wife that she has a masculine soul and she even expresses how she wishes she were not a woman so could carry out the deed herself.

When her husband falters — nearly backing out of the plan — Lady Macbeth questions his manhood and goads him into it.

However, after the murder, unable to cope with the guilt, she descends into madness and her relationship with Macbeth is tested to its limit.

Dr Harney, a teacher of Medical Sciences at Bermuda College, said of her decision to perform the part: “It was totally intimidating —I have never done Shakespeare before.  I have done about 30 shows but have never done any Shakespeare.

“We had a couple of days off because of the storm so I was able to hammer my lines — they are in my mind all the time.

“I have 100 per cent relied on John (Zuill) — I accepted the part because of my experience with him through the call backs and auditioning. I had 100 per cent faith in him because he has that scholarly background in Shakespeare and I really liked how he is super analytical in the rehearsals. It was terrifying before that.”

Shakespeare’s great “tragedy of blood”, the play tells the story of Scottish general Macbeth who fought victoriously in a battle between Scotland and Norway. 

King Duncan gives Macbeth the title of Thane of Cawdor and declares his eldest son Malcolm Prince of Cumberland, as heir to the throne.

However, three witches have a premonition that Macbeth will one day become King.

This is when the ambitious, power-craving Lady Macbeth’s deceptive plan comes into force.

She talks her husband into killing the King Duncan and framing the guards, and in turn Malcolm, for his murder.

Macbeth eventually takes the throne but both he and his wife suffer greatly for their sins.

Corruption of power

Themes running through the play include unchecked ambition, corruption of power and the relationship between cruelty and masculinity.

Dr Harney says she accepted the challenge of portraying one of Shakespeare’s most powerful female characters because Macbeth is her favourite Shakespeare play.

“Lady Macbeth is one of the first feminists — women were nothing back then. They didn’t even act on stage — either they were an object of affection or some kind of hideous creature, never somebody with a brain and ambition.

 “I went to an all girls’ school (Havergal College in Toronto) and it was quite a feminist school so I relate to it.”

“It is pretty mainstream that everybody just considers Lady Macbeth to be a wicked person. I don’t see her that way at all because if she was wicked then she wouldn’t have had a conscious. Evil people go and do wicked stuff all the time and can sleep at night.

“She is overly ambitious and even naïve in some ways because didn’t she ever think this thing out. In the same way I don’t see Eve as wicked and this is an obvious Biblical allusion to that.”

You may recognise Dr Harney as the young mother from the CableVision adverts, maybe as the social worker in Lucinda Spurling’s Poverty In Paradise or even from her minor role in Dream Girls. However most of her acting performances have been overseas in Toronto.

She says one of the highlights on the stage was her role as Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar at the Talbot Theatre in London Ontario. Above all Dr Harney enjoys singing and dancing — she said that she became disillusioned with black actors being given few opportunities in mainstream theatre aside from black-only “polarised“ plays such as Porgy and Bess.

Dr Harney was classically trained to sing at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and she is currently with the Bermuda-based rock band Sonique Sanctuary. She says that her singing experience has helped her in her role as Lady Macbeth only in terms of being able to project her voice.

So is she ready for her first ever Shakespeare performance?

“I am literally just starting to enjoy it. There is no wiggle room in Shakespeare there is no wiggle room with the verse and the meter — the rigidness in that context is extremely challenging to know I had to learn my words
verbatim.

“The most difficult part for me was feeling morally superior to her. It was really hard to not go into a place where I felt like I was objectifying the character. Some characters you get them and you can be them and there is so much of you right there already.

“With this it was like, yes, probably some aspects of my personality are quite feminist but then the morally reprehensible part was hard for me to genuinely get to.”

Seating is arranged on a first come first serve basis on bleachers or guests are welcome to bring their own blanket or compact lawn chair. There will be a bar serving beer, wine and sodas. In the event of inclement weather, decision will be made 30 minutes prior to the start of the show. Persistent heavy rain will likely mean cancellation in which case tickets will be refunded except for the closing night show.

Where: Fort Hamilton

When: Thursday, September 20 to Saturday, September 29 (no performance on Monday, September 24).

Showtime: 8pm

Tickets: $25 available from Daylesford Theatre box office.

For members from September 11 and 12 and for non-members on September 13 to the 19th between 5:30pm and 7pm and at the gate one hour before 8pm. Call: 292-0848 or online at www.bmds.bm.