The Summer of 1958

Dwain studied summers during the late '50s to obtain his Master's Degree from St. Cloud State University. While there, he took part in an ambitious theater festival, playing Macbeth.

I think my father was both proud and troubled by the experience of playing the Scottish king. I got the impression that he was honored to be cast, worked very hard at it, but never really felt he nailed it. In later years, he eschewed directing Shakespeare, claiming that he didn't understand the playwright enough. I'll never know for sure. The Chronicle called his performance "riveting" and while that might be a bit of hyperbole, I never got the impression the audience was disappointed.

Shared here are two articles from the press of the day.   NOTE: The banner image on this page is the only fake image to appear on this site. The pictures I have of Dwain's Macbeth are so out-of-focus they are unusable. My solution was to age and alter a photo taken of Dwain as a college student and then to combine it with Jacob Jacobsz de Wet II's 17th century portrait of the real Macbeth. Apologies to the purists-- but I think it's kind of cool.

Macbeth to be Presented At State College 2 Nights

St. Cloud State college theatre will present the play "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in Stewart hall auditorium on the campus.

The production, under the direction of Dr. Arthur L. Houseman, is the final event of the Shakespearean Festival now in session at the college.

Playing the title role will be Dwain Johnson, graduate and director of drama at Staples, Minn. Gretchen Zimmerman, a graduate of state college and now instructor at Ely, Minn. will play the role of Lady Macbeth.

The play will be presented on an authentic Elizabethan stage built especially for this production. The set was patterned off a model of the Globe Theatre in England, where Shakespeare's plays were originally presented.

Stewart hall auditorium stage will be completely covered by the set which is 20 feet high, 28 feet deep and 38 feet wide.

The acting style of the production will make the fullest possible use of the stage, said Dr. Houseman.

Costumes are Elizabethan. The cast and the construction and production crews have been staffed largely by members of the festival.

ST CLOUD TIMES, September, 1958

Macbeth to be Presented At State College 2 Nights

Summertime and the living wasn't so easy for those who participated in the June 9 to July 18 Shakespearean Festival. The workshop was jam-packed from morning to late at night with classes in Reading Shakespeare and Staging Shakespeare, during the day and nights were spent reading. writing themes and taking an active part in all special events.

Macbeth poster

Not only were the movie versions of Romeo and Juliet, Julius Caesar and Hamlet made available to students, but also a high school production of King Lear was open to student criticism and entertainment. Even Renaissance fencing techniques were demonstrated along with special evenings set aside for Elizabethan music and dance.

Many students however can vividly recount that the most exciting event of all was the dramatic interpretation by Arnold Moss, one of America's foremost Shakespearian actors.

The final culminating activity was the staging of Macbeth by the participants of the workshop. As well as acting in the production, the students constructed their own "Globe Theatre"- set 20 feet high, 28 feet deep and 38 feet wide. With this impressive background, Dwain Johnson and Gretchen Zimmerman electrified audiences with their vivid portrayals of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth.

Mr. Johnson is a graduate student and the director of drama at Staples, Minn. Gretchen Zimmerman, a graduate of St. Cloud State, noted that the most memorable occasion for her at the workshop was the privilege of playing Lady Macbeth, a long-desired role.

When asked about her impressions about the workshop, Miss Zimmerman would comment "The work! We nick-named the workshop, the sweatshop." She also recalls that the great stores of knowledge available to each participant made it of impossible not to be touched by some area of interest concerning Shakespeare. This osmosis of knowledge however was only made possible by every participant's cooperation and also skillful direction of the workshop by co-chair Dr. Housman and Dr. Thompson.

Miss Zimmerman also noted that a steady diet of Shakespeare for breakfast, Shakespeare for dinner and Shakespeare for supper resulted in both student and faculty learning in not just one but all aspects of Shakespeare As Dr. Housman so aptly summed up the month-long festival, "Both students and faculty were exposed to Shakespeare from every conceivable angle . . ."

By Pat Murphy, ST CLOUD STATE CHRONICLE, September 30, 1958