Artist Spotlight: Peter Griffith

Alex Schaaf

Among the many different senior projects that are happening around this time on campus, there is one that catches the eye as being different from the others. Peter Griffith, a fifth-year senior, is directing Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” for his senior project, and for the parts, he cast only students that had no prior acting experience here at Lawrence.
“I don’t think acting is necessarily something that should involve only actors,” he said. “People act every day, you know? I guess that’s a pretty clich thing to say, but this isn’t as big of an issue as a lot of people think it would be.”
Hailing from Laramie, Wyo., Griffith decided to take on this project after a class he took.
“In a directing class I took last year, I directed a scene from Macbeth, starring a couple of guys that are in the play this year,” he said. “It really turned me on to the idea.”
Griffith stressed that while some people may think Shakespeare is only for dedicated, serious actors, that is not the case at all.
“Shakespeare, in a lot of ways, is easier to act than a lot of other plays,” he said. “There’s no subtext at all, everything is right there on the surface, everything is in the words.”
Griffith took the play as a “fun challenge,” but stressed that the result of his work is no different than with more experienced actors.
“My actors are facing the same challenges that experienced actors are facing,” he said. “People keep asking me if it is going to be like a comedic version, since all these guys are funny, and it’s not.”
The cast has been rehearsing inside a classroom in Main Hall, but recently they took it to the outside of the building in order to experience a bigger stage, Griffith said.
Griffith was turned on to Shakespeare when he acted in “The Winter’s Tale” a couple of years ago here at Lawrence.
“There were a couple of actors there that were really incredible at what they did,” he said. “It kind of showed me that if you take Shakespeare’s words for what they’re worth, it sort of acts itself, as long as you are true to the language.”
As for actors that have been influential on his work, Griffith claims an unusual influence, but important none the same.
“As far as acting goes, your influences are based on who you grow up watching,” he said. “And for me, that was Patrick Stewart, on ‘Star Trek.’ That sounds cheesy, but honestly, some of those shows are some of the best acting you are going to see.”
“Macbeth” will be performed in Stansbury Theatre May 31 and June 1 at 7:30 p.m. No tickets are required.
“People should come,” Griffith said in encouragement. “A big part of this project is to make it as close to a real experience as possible for these actors, and you can’t have that without an audience. It’s a big deal for us to get people out to watch.