Manbites Dog Theater managing director Ed Hunt has a “problem” that a lot of Triangle theaters would like to have. All five performances of the Tiny Ninja Theater’s presentation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to be performed by tiny action figures Dec. 8-12 as part of Manbites Dog’s Other Voices Series, are technically sold out.
But Hunt says the theater may add seats and/or sell standing room tickets the day of each performance for the 2004 appearance by the New York City-based Tiny Ninja Theater, which also sold out all of its Dec. 10-14, 2003 performances of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Check the Manbites Dog web site at http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/ tomorrow [12/8] at 12 noon for definitive word on the extra-ticket situation.
Founded in 1999 by company director Dov Weinstein, Tiny Ninja Theater takes its cue from the Old Actor’s line in The Fantasticks: “There are no small parts, only small actors.” According to the company’s web site, Weinstein said at the time, “I had noticed that there were these tiny plastic ninjas in vending machines all across the city, but no one was using them to perform classical theater. Something had to be done.”
Also according to the theater’s web site, “Tiny Ninja Theater presents Macbeth is Tiny Ninja Theater’s first Mainstage production. It stars Mr. Smile in the title role and Mrs. Smile as Lady Macbeth. The original FringeNYC production ran 40 minutes long and had a house of 10 seats. (To accommodate the crowds, 5 standing room tickets per show were sold during the later days of the Festival.) For the extended run of the show, the ‘tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,’ monologue, which had been cut because of time constraints, was put back into the show. Six seats were also added, bringing the total house capacity up to 21, although it was sometimes stretched to 25.”
FringeNYC promotional copy described Macbeth as “Shakespeare’s classic tale of murder and intrigue performed by inch-high plastic ninjas and assorted dime store figures on a briefcase-sized stage. Grand spectacle on a tiny scale.”
In his Director’s Note about Macbeth, Dov Weinstein wrote:
"It has been a joy for me to watch everyone in this company grow into their roles. Believe it or not, many of these ninjas have never acted professionally before. And, of course, nothing compares to watching Mr. and Mrs. Smile use the raw material of their own long-standing relationship in service of their characters’ deep, and deeply troubled, love affair.
"The process, however, has not always been an easy one. Tensions and personality conflicts are bound to arise when a large group of tiny plastic ninjas work this closely on a project that means so much to all of them. But, in the end, we are all stronger for it. I would like to extend a very special thanks to Ninja, who stepped into the role of Donalbain at the last moment, after the original actor was injured in a freak Exacto knife accident.
"I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank some of the ‘big people.’ Joey Liao, Chris Nicosia, my partner-in-crime Jonathan Van Gieson, and finally, my family, without whom nothing is possible.”
In reviewing the FringeNYC production of the Tiny Ninja Theater presents Macbeth, Alexis Soloski of The Village Voice wrote: “Toward the end of Tiny Ninja Theater Presents Macbeth, the title character muses, ‘There’s nothing serious in mortality. All is but toys.’ And thank goodness. While an audience of 10 or so scopes the briefcase-size stage through cheapo opera glasses, Dov Weinstein puts a troupe of inch-high molded plastic ninjas through the motions of the Scottish play. Performed briskly and with limitless confidence, the show delights with surprising stagings and hilarious bits of literalism. When Macbeth intones, ‘Stars hold your fires!’ Weinstein turns the light out; when a ninja proclaims, ‘But I am faint,’ Weinstein knocks him over.”
Manbites Dog Theater presents the Tiny Ninja Theater in Macbeth Wednesday-Saturday, Dec. 8-11, at 8:15 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 12, at 3:15 p.m. at 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina. $20, except $25 minimum Dec. 11 fundraiser and post-play reception. 919/682-4974 (credit card). Manbites Dog Theater: http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/2/. Tiny Ninja Theater: http://www.tinyninjatheater.com/macbeth/ [inactive 8/05].