Fort La Tour’s history is filled with tragedy and bloodshed.
In 1631, Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour built a fortified trading post at Portland Point to trade furs with the Wolastoqiyik. In 1645, his wife, Madame de La Tour, the “Lioness of Acadia,” famously waged a multi-day campaign to defend it against Charles de Menou d’Aulnay, a bloody battle that ended in the surrender and mass hanging of their men. .
Historian WF Ganong wrote that “there was no event in Acadian history… that tugs so powerfully at the strings of our human sympathies.”
Starting Wednesday, the fort will host another famous tragedy.
Macbeth, directed by Sandra Bell, is a collaboration with Saint John Theater Company and Loyalist City Shakespeare.
It is the first large-scale public event organized by Place Fort La Tour. Interestingly, the Scottish tragedy was probably written in 1606, just a few decades before Charles de Saint-Étienne de La Tour arrived at Portland Point.
“We are very excited to have an outdoor experience,” said Heather Kamerman, general manager of Place Fort La Tour.
Bell called it “the biggest outdoor project Saint John has ever had in terms of theater.”
As a theater set, the fort is “like nothing you can build. It almost mimics Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, where the audience, the workers on the land would have stood,” he said.
“It’s fabulous. And, of course, the Saint John fog may drift in to create a bit of atmosphere.”
Battle to restore a national historic site
During more than 5,000 years of recorded history, the site has served as an Indian burial ground, French fort, and nail factory. It was designated a national historic site in 1923.
The idea of developing Fort La Tour as a historic attraction began over 50 years ago in 1972, when the Fort La Tour Development Authority was formed.
Has been countless studies over the decades. big plans have been revealed. Archaeological excavations have been carried out. He construction phase it was news. Heartbreakingly, in 2021 an unresolved arson almost destroyed the fort just a few weeks before its scheduled opening.
Last summer, the site opened up for smaller-scale events, Kamerman said, as the team solidified partnerships and got “a little bit more ready to share stories and experiences with people.”
The grand opening of Fort La Tour is now scheduled for August 4.
Before the big public party in August, something evil comes this way.
Bell’s production of Macbeth is a crisp 90 minutes, much shorter than the uncut script, which can run for over two hours, not including the intermission.
“We have a good, tight story that focuses on the main action,” he said, focusing on and exploring universal human anxieties and ambitions.
“Not all of us are Scottish thanes, ready to kill, to climb the social ladder,” Bell said. “But we all have desires. We all have ambitions. We all have regrets. We all have guilt. We are all afraid. The play sums it all up, and there are sword fights.
“I think there is something for everyone in this play.”
‘The fine line of good and evil’
One thing you won’t find in Macbeth, said lead actress Christina Isbill, is a clear vision of morality.
Even in her murderous schemes to make her husband King of Scotland, Lady Macbeth is “justified in her own mind”, Isbill said. “In the end, she turns out to be very human after all. So there’s no such thing as pure evil.”
As Macbeth, actor Cameron Secord hopes to play a man who willfully ignores his best intuitions but never manages to silence his own conscience: a man “on that fine line between good and evil.”
“Macbeth finds himself in this middle ground, where he has to make decisions that are bad, but for what he believes is the greater good.”
Also ghoulishly good are the Weird Sisters, the trio of witches who prophesy that Macbeth will one day become King of Scotland, played by Beth Pollock, Madison Lucas, and Matt Hamilton Snow.
“We’re a little macabre,” Snow said. “However, when we are together, we are a bit more mischievous. There are smiles and laughter, but when Macbeth is around, be careful.”
Luke Norton, recently arrived in Saint John from Sudbury, Ontario, plays Macduff. He said that discovering the local history has been an advantage in landing the role.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said, “about Madame La Tour, the history, the nearby hallowed grounds as well. It feels very special to be here. I love the view of the harbor and all the ships coming in and out.
“It’s fun to be down here on the ground floor, enjoying it in a different way.”
Eerie fog, stunning sea views
There is an element of surprise beyond the supernatural prophecies, murders, and ghosts.
In addition to the ever-changing weather, wildlife encounters, passing trains, and the noise of the Harbor Bridge are all possibilities.
“Something could happen differently every night,” Bell said. “That in itself is what theater is all about. I think my actors are ready for anything.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, only a handful of tickets remained for Wednesday’s opening night. The remaining shows, running July 12-22, are selling out fast. Good walking shoes, water, a jacket, maybe even a blanket are recommended.
The first event of its kind at Fort La Tour is expected to attract people not naturally looking for Shakespeare, as well as Shakespearean fans curious to finally see the completed fort.
“Most big cities have an outdoor summer Shakespearean festival, and this is our proof,” Bell said. “Let’s do it here too.
“I hope that people from here and abroad will come and experience what Saint John has to offer at the port.”