Outside the Box: An interview with Adriano Sobretodo Jr

Matchbox Macbeth, a Litmus Theatre production was a sensational theatrical experience. It just closed on the 30th of October after a seventeen day run. This piece of theatre was one of the most imaginative and brilliant adaptations of a Shakespeare play I have seen. This creative team ingeniously honed in on the most elusive and dense moments of this story. It also let some of Shakespeare’s tightly wound pros breathe, permitting new melodies and characters to permeate Macbeth’s original structure.

I am so excited about sharing with you Adriano Sobretado Jr’s interview. Like our previous interviewee Maev Beaty, his answers are filled with juicy details and lovely insights.

If you feel the interview isn’t enough for you please feel free to peruse Litmus Theatre’s websitehttp://litmustheatre.com/. Otherwise enjoy!

Photo by: Justin Cutler
Left to Right: Adriano Sobretodo Jr., Rob Renda, Claire Wynveen

Adriano Sobretodo Jr., a co-founder of Litmus Theatre, played one of the 3 witches in the second sold out run of the indie hit Matchbox Macbeth. His witch character, in turn, plays several roles including King Duncan and MacDuff. This eerie yet magical play brought 15 audience members at a time to hidden backyard shed for an hour-long adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic.

What was the favourite thing you learned about your character that was made possible by this particular interpretation?

Litmus Theatre’s openness to re-interpretation and experimentation allowed my King Duncan to be more human. Our director, Matthew Thomas Walker, and assistant director, Mariel Marshal, really nurtured an environment where they would entertain anything – no matter how bizarre. So, when they asked for ideas on how to make Duncan larger than life, I suggested bungee chording milk crates to my feet to act as stilts. Then, when we layered in a character body, inspired by the wilting plants and flowers Duncan so often uses in speech, we suddenly had a real person: larger than life in stature yet frail as a wispy flower.

In what way did you find your rehearsal process unique?

When was it normal? I’ll limit it to three. 1. I was rehearsing in my backyard: the shed was behind my house in Little Italy. I didn’t know whether to go over my blocking or barbeque burgers. 2. Tuesday night rehearsals from 9 pm to 1 am, anyone? 3. Semi-outdoor tech-week in October must be very similar to indoor tech-week in your refrigerator. Chilly.

Intimacy—briefly discuss in any way you like how this relates to the play.

The play was intimate out of necessity. We were in the middle of a residential neighbourhood so we had to keep the volume down. And we were often only inches from our scene partner and the audience, so the style of acting, at times, had to be toned down. You feel like you’re eavesdropping on Lady Macbeth and Macbeth, played by Claire Wynveen and Jamie Maczko, in the scene after the murder of Duncan. The hushed voices and silences are riveting. This kind of thing just doesn’t translate on a large stage.

What was a favourite surprising situation that happened during a performance?

Our shed venue was in one of those typical Toronto back alleys: narrow, with garages on either side. On opening night, my neighbour across the alley was trying to back in to his garage just when my MacDuff makes this memorable wild-west-style entrance into the shed. I lifted the creaky metal garage door with my right hand as I placed my cowboy hat on with my left. But my neighbour has angled his car so that its nose is practically in the shed. His headlights are blinding half our audience. The exhaust from the running engine wafts down the alley. It looked like MacDuff just pulled up in a Pontiac. Gifts from the alley are often what made the show so memorable.

Use five adjectives to describe the entire process for you.

• Rusty,• Small,• Ridiculous,• Cinnamon(y),• Imaginative

What did you take away from this production that you feel must be included in your future creative projects?

Litmus Theatre has only scratched the surface playing with lighting and shadow and we will continue this exploration in future shows. Everybody always comments on the fantastic lighting design by Patrick Lavender. The different moods and looks Patrick brought to the play was incredible – especially when you consider his humble arsenal: a 2-channel dimmer from the 1960’s jury-rigged with 5 power-bars, 1 incandescent bulb, a couple of Canadian Tire flood lights, a red bicycle light, 4 Honest Ed flashlights. One unforgettable sequence in the play had Rob Renda, playing a murderer, casting an ominous shadow through a window and on to a hanging piece of fabric. The image isn’t obvious at first, but when you hear metal scraping dirt, it’s clear the shadow is a shovel – the murderer is digging a grave. The further exploration of lofi lighting solutions and shadow-play is something Litmus Theatre will be carrying forward in our next production – an adaptation of the Peter Pan story.

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Sounds very exciting! I cannot wait to see the amazing developments of this company. Thanks Litmus Theatre!

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