Murder, ghosts, and witches are coming to Cotton Park and three Stratford residents will be involved. ACT (a community theatre) is helping to celebrate the Stratfords of the World Reunion with an outdoor performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and featured in the cast are Cyril Armstrong, Rob Reddin, and Catherine MacDonald.
Cyril Armstrong is an old hand at the theatre, though mainly behind the scenes, preparing sets for many successful ACT productions, including The Mikado and The School for Scandal. He is thrilled to have his first Shakespearean part, that of the Doctor, who is brought to help the guilt-ridden and sleepwalking Lady Macbeth. He is pleased that our Stratford will play host to this year’s reunion and he is eager for the chance to play in the Park: “Cotton Park will be a unique venue,” he says, and points to the challenges the actors will face in an outdoor performance on varied terrain. Now retired, Cyril has lived in our Stratford for twelve years, and he’s the only one of the four Stratfordian performers who has visited some of the world’s other Stratfords: both in Ontario and in England.
The man to play Macbeth’s nemesis, Macduff, is Rob Reddin. Rob works in non-profit youth development projects – coordinating an exchange program for the YMCA, and delivering water conservation education to elementary schools, and on the side, he feeds his theatre habit. He has done a little of everything: producing, directing, stage managing, and acting, though he says that since his most memorable parts have been drunks, he’s looking forward to the chance to play a more sober and noble role. “I think it’s amazing to have the production in Stratford,” he says. “The connection is exciting, especially the specific location – Cotton Park. I’m proud to be a part of it!”
One of Shakespeare’s greatest roles is Lady Macbeth, and in this production, Catherine MacDonald will play the strong woman behind the murderous man. This is a role she has wanted since she heard ACT was planning to mount it, and she’s excited to have it in her home town: “It is especially wonderful to be playing it in Cotton Park, as we live very close by. The library there is ‘our library’ and the trail is ‘our’ trail.’” A veteran of ACT and high school productions, she has been busy for the past decade both raising her three children and teaching English – including Shakespeare – at Charlottetown Rural. No doubt, her students will treat her with even more respect – and perhaps a little fear – after they have the chance to see her as Lady M.