Media Contact:
Connie Di Grazia, mdigraz@artist.uncsa.edu, 336/770-1240


Gives Meaning to the Superstition behind “the Scottish Play”

Winston-Salem – The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will present Richard Nelson’s provocative play Two Shakespearean Actors, an account of the deadly rivalry between a two great actors – one decidedly American and one decidedly British – later this month.

Performances are at 8 p.m. April 20-24 and at 2 p.m. April 24 & 25 in the Thrust Theatre of Performance Place on the UNCSA campus at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. Call the UNCSA Box Office at 336-721-1945 for reservations, or visit www.uncsa.edu/performances to purchase tickets online.

Guest artist John Langs, an alumnus of the UNCSA School of Drama’s directing program, will direct college juniors and seniors in the play.

In the theatre there are common superstitions, much like sports, that are good practice to follow. For instance, it is considered bad luck to wish someone “good luck” in a theatre – so instead, “break a leg” is said. Leaving a ghost light always burning in an empty theatre allows enough light for a theatre’s ghost to see, or to ward off those ghosts, depending on what you believe.

The clash between British actor William Charles McCready (Matt Jellison) and his American rival Edwin Forrest (Ace Jernigan) causes the famous 1849 Astor Place Riot in Richard Nelson's "Two Shakespearean Actors," running April 20-25 at UNC School of the Arts. Photos by Dee Blackburn.

Perhaps, though, the most important superstition to practice is to always refer to Shakespeare’s Macbeth as “the Scottish play”; otherwise, expect tragedy to befall the production.

Proof of this is given in Two Shakespearean Actors, which is about two feuding actors, Edwin Forrest (the American) and William Macready (the Brit), as they and their acting companies both perform Macbeth on the same night at neighboring downtown theatres. What results is the historical New York Astor Place Riots of 1849, where 34 people died in the fray, led by anti-British theatre-goers.

Nelson paints an exciting and often humorous portrait of the events leading up to the riots and provides a glimpse into life in the theatre.

Director John Langs is creating a production that will bring the atmosphere of 19th-century theatre to life, including footlights on the stage.

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts is the first state-supported, residential school of its kind in the nation. Established as the North Carolina School of the Arts by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, UNCSA opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. More than 1,100 students from middle school through graduate school train for careers in the arts in five professional schools: Dance, Design and Production (including a Visual Arts Program), Drama, Filmmaking, and Music. UNCSA is the state’s only public arts conservatory, dedicated entirely to the professional training of talented students in the performing, visual and moving image arts. UNCSA is located at 1533 S. Main St., Winston-Salem. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.