Witches in Utah
By Kathryn Neves
“Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble. . . . By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” These are the words that ominously echo whenever we think of witches. I mean, it’s even in Harry Potter. Definitely, Shakespeare’s witches are among literature’s scariest, and most fascinating, characters.
Macbeth has been produced at the Utah Shakespeare Festival seven times, the 2019 production being the eighth; with all that, there have been some pretty interesting witches on our stages. Take a look at a few of the ways that Macbeth’s demons have been portrayed throughout the years:
In 1989, the witches were so ominous that even pictures are frightening. Look at the beard there; clearly, the designer wanted to be as close as possible to Shakespeare’s words. “You should be women, and yet your beards forbid me to interpret that you are so” (1.3.47-49). Portraying the witches here are Laurie Birmingham, Amy Thone, and Doug Zschiegner.
Up next, in 1996, we have a trio of witches that have clearly embraced every aspect of their dark side. Their ragged costumes and hair and the sinister props, not to mention the deep red lighting and the terrifying facial expression, all point to witches operating on a plane far more terrifying than our own. Actors here are Erin Annarella, Manon Halliburton, and Kari Hayter.
The witches of the 2004 production of Macbeth are dark, sinister, and gruesome. Their makeup makes them look deathly, as though they’ve come back from the grave to torment Macbeth. The use of blood and frightening symbols made these witches’ performance absolutely unforgettable. Witches were portrayed by Misty Cotton, Pat Sibley, and Afton Quast (with Henry Woronicz as Macbeth).
And lastly, in our most recent 2010 production, these witches look wild. They look as though they live in the wilderness, waiting to prey upon susceptible people like Macbeth. Their tangled hair and matted clothing all point to their roles as creatures of another world. Their frightening demeanor and poses are threatening, even in picture form. These witches are portrayed by Chelsea Steverson, Lillian Castillo, and Monica Lopez.
The witches in 2019 are portrayed by Emma Geer, Sarah Hollis, and Betsy Mugavero. They are supernatural and chilling, mysterious and otherworldly. They are gritty and dark and . . . well, you need to come and see for yourself.