Q&A: Junior draws on her animalistic side for role of third witch in Sacramento Theatre Company’s ‘Macbeth’
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Junior Monique Lonergan has been performing for eight years and has been with the Sacramento Theatre Company (STC) for three. Lonergan appeared in STC’s productions of “The Fantasticks,” “The Tempest” and “The Donner Party” and is now in the company’s production of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” She plays the third witch, the third murderer and the waiting gentlewoman. “Macbeth” runs until March 18.
Q: Is it difficult balancing three roles in one production?
A: It’s not that bad. The waiting gentlewoman and the third murderer don’t have that many lines.
The third witch was definitely a challenge, though, just because it’s so different from most of the parts that I get cast for.
Q: How is it different?
A: I usually get typecast as the young ingénue who’s in love and stuff, but for “Macbeth” I kind of went crazy. It was really fun.
Q: How did you get the part of the third witch?
A: I did the general auditions for the Sacramento Theatre Company. I got called back for it, and after the callback, I found out I was cast.
Q: Who are the third witch, the third murderer and the waiting gentlewoman?
A: The third witch is part of this triple goddess group. There’s me, who’s the maiden witch, then there’s the middle witch, who’s like the mother, and the first witch, who’s the crone. We manipulate Macbeth into fulfilling the prophecies that we tell him. We tell him he’s going to be king and Thane of Cawdor, and then from there he gets wrapped up in his ambition and greed and kills a lot of people afterward.
The third murderer is employed because Macbeth wants to kill this guy named Banquo, his friend. So I help kill Banquo.
The waiting gentlewoman is Lady Macbeth’s serving maid. She only has one scene, but she calls a doctor because she’s concerned (about) Lady Macbeth, (who) has been sleepwalking and saying some really weird stuff.
Q: Are there challenges you’ve come across playing these roles?
A: Yes. The witch has been challenging (because) I (have to get) into her animalistic qualities and vocal qualities. When I need to get somewhere (onstage), I usually crawl. It’s very exhausting physically.
I have to lower my voice so that I sound a little more intimidating because my voice is pretty high-pitched. So having to project in a vocal register I don’t normally speak in can get tiring.
My costume is (also) interesting – I have this really big cloak with feathers and beetle wings all over it. I also have a red wig with the same (theme) and dirt all over my face.
Q: What about this production is different for you?
A: I usually do comedies and musicals, so this (production) is pretty heavy and dramatic (for me). It’s been a really good experience (and has made) me more well-rounded as an actor.
Q: How’s the set?
A: There’s columns and a stump on the stage, but what’s really interesting about the set is that there’s this pentagram on the floor of the stage. I don’t know if you can see it from the audience very well, but it’s very cool for me personally to get into character, to connect with the paganism.
Q: How much have you rehearsed?
A: We’ve been rehearsing for about three-and-a-half weeks. It’s a very quick process. This production (also) felt a lot quicker to me because my director was really organized and had a vision of what he wanted.
Rehearsals for me are usually every day after school, 4:30 to 8:30. Then on the weekends it’s as early as 10 (a.m.) to 9:30 (p.m.) on Saturday and Sunday. We do get an hour-and-a-half break for lunch, (though).
Q: Do you enjoy working with the rest of the cast?
A: Yes, they’re really great. The woman who plays Lady Macbeth, Atim Udoffia, is amazing. She kills her role every night.
Q: Are you one of the younger members of the cast?
A: No, actually. I’m kind of in the middle. There are these two little boys in the cast who are 12 and 13.
Q: What’s your favorite part of this production?
A: Traditionally, the scene with this witch goddess woman gets cut from the play, but (we left it in). I’m really happy they kept it. It’s my favorite scene to do.
Q: What have you learned from doing “Macbeth”?
A: I’ve learned to trust my impulses onstage and to work with the text more.
At the beginning of the rehearsal process, I was really timid about how far I could go as a witch, but the director was just like, “Go crazy – do whatever you want.” And it’s worked out!
—By Sahej Claire