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Voodoo Macbeth

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of viewing a 2021 film titled "Voodoo Macbeth". It was based on the 1936 play by Orson Welles that featured a all black cast in Harlem. The movie is loosely based in the events that occurred during the operation of the play. The movie starts off with a young Orson looking for actors to fill up the roster then meeting John Houseman and Rose McClendon who both are co-directors of the Negro Theater Unit in Harlem. The US government provides the unit money for plays for black men and women to provide them work and develop various skills.

Jewell Wilson who play Orson Welles is brilliant in portraying a young man who has the ability but beats himself to submission to prove his talents. The bar scenes where you see Orson drunk and still function to recruit people for roles is a display of skill. Inger Tudor who plays Rose McClendon, the co director of the Negro Theater Unit is a great performance of stern yet compassionate. She always look out for the unit's best interest even in sickness. The best performance of the film goes to the couple of Jeremy Tardy and Wrekless Watson (Maurice and Cuba Johnson) is a wonderful way of showing how black queer men survive in those days.

The backdrop of Harlem in the 30s was full of interesting characters including Jack Carter (Gary McDonald) who drunkenness got him kicked out of the play then later on out of the theater on opening night. Voodoo Macbeth is almost a tribute to the greatness of Welles to what he was becoming and to the struggles of black actors who couldn't catch a break in the late 30s to early 40s without the help of whites. A great film and one that should be on repeat.


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