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Macbeth - Broadway

Alan Cumming stars in this radical re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Scottish play.

Alan Cumming Reflects on His ‘Exhilarating’ Broadway Run Playing Nearly Every Role in Macbeth

Alan Cumming Reflects on His ‘Exhilarating’ Broadway Run Playing Nearly Every Role in Macbeth
'I am literally Shakespeare’s slave right now.'

In the corporate world, employees leaving a job are asked to sit through a sometimes grueling “exit interview” about their time at the company. Although that concept doesn’t exist for Broadway performers, we think it’s fun to check in with stars as they finish up a run. Tony winner Alan Cumming, who tackled nearly every role in his new, reimagined interpretation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, looks back on his intense but thrilling few months as “Shakespeare’s slave,” and what he will miss most when Macbeth’s limited engagement concludes on July 14.

How did you feel when you first got the job?
Flattered, then terrified, then overwhelmed, then I dived into denial. It worked.

How do you feel now that you’re leaving?
I am so looking forward to having my life back. I am literally Shakespeare’s slave right now. Every day, all I do is try and get my body and voice cranked up to be able to do the play. So I am looking forward to not having to do that, and also slightly dreading the inevitable physical breakdown. Hey ho.

What are three words you would use to describe your experience in Macbeth?
Exhausting, exhilarating, stupid.

What was the easiest thing about the job?
The bit at the end when I am in the bath and the audience thinks I have drowned. That’s actually my most restful, peaceful moment of my whole Macbeth day.

What was the hardest thing?
Not being able to go out and party afterwards.

What was the highlight of your time at Macbeth?
The fact that this experimental version of a Shakespeare play has been on Broadway at all, and found an audience, and a young audience at that, is so heartening to me. That’s the highlight.

What advice would you give to future “job applicants”?
Buy lots of arnica, get down to the gym straight away and wave bye-bye to big nights out for a while. Also make sure you have a very understanding spouse!

How do you think you’ve grown during your time at Macbeth?
I’ve probably aged 20 years. Does that count? I’ve certainly learned a lot about myself, my body and how disciplined I can be. And I have had my definition of acting reinforced in such a total and all-encompassing way: It’s just play. Be in the moment and be truthful and mean it, and you can do anything.

Why are you leaving?
I have to go back to filming The Good Wife, and also I might die if I do it any more.

What will you miss most about the job?
I will miss the people and my yellow dressing room at the Barrymore Theatre. I also will miss the routine of going to work at the same time each day. And I will miss saying things like “the raven himself is hoarse that croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan under my battlements,” and “confusion now hath made his masterpiece,” and “tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time.” It has been such an honor to get to say all of those great lines.

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