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Murderous ambition

Requested by local teachers, Howes said "Macbeth" is one of Shakespeare's shorter plays, and is full of action.

"It gets going with the first murder and just keeps going," she said. In addition to several sword-fighting scenes, Macbeth has witches and ghosts, as Macbeth is haunted by his actions throughout the play.

The cast of the NYSTI production will also bear out the tributes to the richness of Shakespeare's words.

"Timothy has an extraordinary ability with the language," Swain said. "I directed him as Hamlet in the spring and a couple of years ago, and his ability is at the center of the show."

"I love language and I love listening," Stickney said. "My father was a Presbyterian minister and he often quoted pieces of poetry, and posed deep questions. I often wouldn't answer something until I knew I could get it perfect."

Stickney said his career path is a little different than that of many black American actors.

"It's often hard to convince people that an American black man can play a classical actor, but people have often cast me in classic pieces," he said. He recalled being asked to perform Richard III, and at first thinking he'd be a lord or a role often typically played by a black actor.

Stickney works frequently with a company called Take Wing and Soar, whose mission is to help classical actors of color to achieve their full potential.

"I owe it to them to do it," he said. "You have to find your way through Shakespeare, speak it, do it, until there's the happy accident when you say 'Now I get it. What emotions can I tie in with that?' Just reading Shakespeare doesn't work."

Stickney hopes that audiences have that same happy accident, and is always pleased when people tell him they've completely understood the piece " often to the point of asking if they've changed the lines.

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