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Voodoo Macbeth

By Alan Ng | October 26, 2022

Only recently have I known about the work of the Federal Theatre Project. The documentaries I’ve seen lauded the program as giving a voice to the Black community, but Voodoo Macbeth shows that despite good intentions, the program was far from benevolent. This story was one of the first murmurings that would eventually lead to the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. So the struggle of being Black in America meshes throughout while the plot takes on the world of theater and art. The film hits on themes including racism and civil rights, the communist “tone” of the play, the use of blackface, and the world of closeted homosexuality. The play became such a lightning rod that Blacks and Whites both protested it.

Jewell Wilson Bridges carries much of the film on his back. He plays Welles as a driven perfectionist and brutal director. But, with the tremendous pressure for this play to succeed, it begins driving a wedge into his marriage and reignites his alcoholism. It’s also no secret that he was a tyrant of a leader throughout his career, but he was passionate about art. And when dress rehearsal turns into an utter shitshow, Welles does the unimaginable.

Jewell Wilson Bridges carries much of the film on his back.”

My only complaint is that as much as I may have bristled at Bridges and Kuhlman impersonating Welles and Houseman, I sort of wish they had. I say this because the public personas of these two gentlemen are so distinct and iconic it almost doesn’t feel like them throughout the film. In other words, when someone says, “Meet Orson Welles,” you need to see Orson Welles right then and there.

Voodoo Macbeth is worth watching for bringing the Federal Theatre Project out of obscurity and to the forefront. Boasting a great cast of up-and-coming actors, the film is a solid dramatization of the theatrical scene of the 1930s. It’s worth viewing for anyone interested in one of the many seeds that yielded the Civil Rights Movement in America.

For more information, visit the Voodoo Macbeth official website.

Voodoo Macbeth (2022)

Directed: Dagmawi Abebe, Victor Alonso-Berbel, Roy Arwas, Hannah Bang, Christopher Beaton, Agazi Desta, Tiffany Kontoyiannis-Guillen, Zoë Alyce Salnave, Ernesto M. Sandoval, Sabina Vajrača

Written: Agazi Desta, Jennifer Frazin, Morgan Milender, Molly Miller, Amri Rigby, Joel David Santner, Erica Sutherlin, Chris Tarricone

Starring: Jewell Wilson Bridges, Inger Tudor, Daniel Kuhlman, Ashli, Haynes, June Schreiner, etc.

Movie score: 8/10

Voodoo Macbeth Image

"…worth watching for bringing the Federal Theatre Project out of obscurity and to the forefront."

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