by Rita Charleston
The Arden Theatre Company continues its 27th season with Shakespeare’s ”Macbeth,” now running on the Arden’s F. Otto Haas Stage, 40 N. 2nd St. in Old City through April 19. The play features two people with Mt. Airy connections — Alexander Burns, the Founding Artistic Director of Mt. Airy’s Quintessence Theatre who is making his directorial debut at the Arden (Burns was the subject of a feature article in the March 12 issue of the Local), and Mt. Airy resident Josh Carpenter.
Carpenter plays Malcolm, the elder son of King Duncan and the heir to the throne of Scotland. “At the time,” Carpenter explained, “having the eldest son become King wasn’t automatically done. But,in this case, Duncan declares that is his intention. No one is sure Malcolm would make a good king, but upon his father’s death he is forced to grow up and take the throne.
“I can’t say I relate to him in all aspects. I haven’t had the kind of traumatic events he has suffered, and I’m certainly not royalty, but I think all of us have had times in our lives when we were called upon to step up to the plate. So in that respect I can relate.”
In addition to playing Malcolm, Carpenter also plays Murderer#1. “All of us in the show play multiple roles, so we have to learn to switch between lines and personalities. But I think that’s what makes this production fun.”
Carpenter said he also had fun growing up, living in many places because his dad was in the Air Force, until the family finally settled in California. “When I was young, I wanted to be a park ranger or a National Geographic photographer. But in 7th grade I took a drama class and immediately loved it and thought about making the theater my career.”
So after graduating from high school, he headed to Chicago and Northwestern University to do just that. “Eventually I got my degree but soon moved to New York because I couldn’t stand the Chicago winters. But once I got to New York I realized I had no idea how to actually get into the business.”
Discouraged and turning his back on show business, Carpenter decided to teach English but realized before too long that he could not totally give up his dream of becoming an actor. “So I went back to try to become a working actor. I gave myself two years to make it and see where I was at the end of that time. Luckily, I began working pretty steadily. At the end of those two years, I was thrilled to be where I was and see where I was headed. And today, here I am.”
Carpenter, 36, has worked in many venues, but it was Burns in Quintessence Theatre who saw Carpenter’s talent and began using him in many productions at the Mt. Airy venue (the old Sedgwick Theater). In fact, it was because of Quintessence that Carpenter eventually moved to Mt. Airy from New York because of its proximity to Quintessence and because he fell in love with the beauty and tranquility of the area. “In fact, it was Alexander who helped me get this role of Malcolm. I’ve done other roles at the Arden. so they knew me. When Alexander recommended me, they immediately said yes.”
The actor has enjoyed the many roles he’s done over the years, including parts in “The Cherry Orchard,” “Great Expectations,” “Hamlet,” “Richard III”and many others, but says he’s partial to Shakespeare. “His plays have become a sort of an addiction with me. Once I got the taste of his plays, I wanted to do more. When you do a Shakespeare play you know there’s going to be something meaty to do, and that’s fun.”
For more information about “Macbeth,” call the Arden box office at 215-922-1122.