Drew Shirley, who is playing Macbeth in our Tour production, has appeared here at the Festival for 4 seasons. Last year, he was in The Comedy of Errors, Twelfth Night, and Sherlock Holmes: the Final Adventure. He earned his BFA at Emporia State University and his MFA in acting at University of Illinois. While he has participated in a school tour for the Kingsman Shakespeare Company, this will be his first tour where they travel in a van and visit 5 states in 3 months.

We chatted with Drew, right after the first two performances: one at the Iron County Correctional Facility in front of ten young inmates and one for the Iron County schools with over 900 kids.

 

Tell us your thoughts about Shakespeare and this play.

First – in high school, I hated Shakespeare (like many kids). It wasn’t until I worked here in 2008 that I realized how incredible Shakespeare can be. When you see it done well, it can be life changing!

Our production of Macbeth is a high octane train ride to hell. It moves really fast. The first half is like a ghost story or a fable. The second half is the descent into insanity, war and hell.

And it’s not a morality play. Shakespeare often shows us the opposite side of the same coin; no one is all good or all evil. It makes it more interesting. The play is about making decisions and the consequences of those decisions. All of us make the “easy” decision – the little evils that we do. Macbeth makes the “easy” decision to kill the king. And then it all unravels.

 

What are your thoughts on touring?

I think it’s important for the kids. I figure there’s someone like me out there who hates Shakespeare. I have a shot to make him/her fall in love – it could be life changing.

With live theatre, there is something asked of the audience. It’s not like a movie. If they stay with us for the first ten minutes to get through the language, then they will be hooked and stay with us.

I also believe it’s important for adult actors to work with the kids in the workshops. We can show that acting isn’t just selfish but that we can help people. I’ll teach the Improv and Shakespeare Text workshops.

 

What about the different venues?

We have to be really careful with the fights because each school and venue will be different. They are stage fights, but it is contact fighting, so it can be scary if we don’t practice. And I have to worry about breathing when I’m “dead.” I’m always afraid I’ll cough.

I know we’ll have challenges on the road – flat tires, breakdowns, lighting or sound that doesn’t work. So we have to be totally in the moment and chose how to respond. We have a really good group of people with a good balance of skills and temperaments so I know we’ll be fine.

The Tour departed Cedar City on January 22 for Las Vegas. After two weeks there, they will hit the road, visiting five states with 65 performances . You can learn more about the tour at