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"Lady MacBeth and Her Lover" is a new play by acclaimed writer Richard Vetere that runs strong with themes of passion, art, and power. It focuses on three women – all poets - who are searching for both love and fame. Two --Hope and Corinne-- make a suicide pact, but only one takes her life. Inspired by the lives of Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton, the play centers on the daughter of one of the dead poets who seeks literary mentorship and guidance from the surviving member of the pact.

"Lady MacBeth and Her Lover" will be performed at the The Directors Studio at The Directors Company in New York City from November 1 to November 19, 2017.

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased on the Smarttix website. This is the plays second staging, its debut having been at the New York International Fringe Festival/FringeNYC in 2015.

Courtesy of a recent and exclusive interview, Richard discussed this play and the inspiration behind it.

Plays, poetry, and books

Meagan Meehan (MM): What prompted you to pursue the entertainment industry, and what you drew you to the theater?

Richard Vetere (RV): When I was about ten years old and growing up in Queens, I wrote a couple of pages of a play, cast my brothers and friends from the neighborhood, talked my mother into putting on the play in our backyard, put up chairs, and charged a nickel a seat. Of course, I gave myself the lead role and I directed. I remember this as if it were yesterday.

My biggest part came when I talked my cousins and brothers into acting in my play called “The Fall of Rome.” It was Easter Sunday in my aunt's apartment in the West Village and I wanted to show the play to my family.

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I cast my cousin Jane as Attila the Hun. She killed all the Roman soldiers then I dramatically step out on stage with a parchment of peace to save Rome. I played the Pope, of course. I loved my costume. It was a broom and a papal hat I made. Once again, I put up chairs and charged my relatives a nickel a seat. I’m not sure if that is what you call entering the industry, but it is how it all started!

Just a couple of years ago at my grammar school, Saint Stan's in Maspeth, honored me by entering me into their Hall of Fame and at the dinner, a woman came up to me and told me that she had been in my play on tour. I couldn't image what she was talking about until she told me she acted in my play as it was done on 62nd Street and then on 63rd Street and 64th Street in my old neighborhood. That was the tour she was speaking about. Priceless.

MM: As a writer, what themes do you draw on the most and what are the most memorable to explore?

RV: The themes have changed over the years. I believe with each play I explore a different theme.

I usually approach one that interests me enough to create a whole world to explore it.

MM: How did you come up with “Lady Macbeth and Her Lover” and what interests you about the characters and plot?

RV: I was in the New York Playwrights Lab run by Israel Horovitz, and the plan is always that we need to start a new play. I had always been interested in the poets Ann Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and Elizabeth Bishop and how they were friends and studied with Robert Lowell in Boston. After the class, they would hang out and have cocktails. Of those three women, all won Pulitzer Prizes and two committed suicide. I was intrigued by that but I didn't want to write their story. I wanted to write about women poets. The play took years to evolve into what it is now. It was a struggle to find its core. But that happened when I created Corinne and Hope and Emily from my own experience of being a poet.

I have three published books of poetry and was very much in that world through my days at college and Columbia's graduate school, where I focused on Comparative English Literature. I am in many ways like all three women. I am intensely disciplined in my work as Corinne is, and I believe writing came naturally to me like Hope. I never took a single writing class. Emily reminds me of me when I was younger and how I was mentored and how that changed my life for all time. I also share their love of poetry and I also had to decide on a life dedicated to art or one not so clearly defined. That is the crux of the play and it excited me to present it to others to discuss.

Theater, characters, and novels

MM: Did being a poet help impact how you approached this theater project?

RV: Totally, nothing is more in contrast with the American culture! The poet Delmore Schwartz, who I did my Master's essay on at Columbia, talked about this in the 1930's and 1940's.

MM: You took your characters from the lives of female poets, so what about their lives and talents fascinated you?

RV: Yes, I took them in as characters but in the most general sense. What intrigued me was how difficult their lives were. Being women, extremely talented, and two were mothers, the pressures they faced in a society that ignores its poets, and probably ignores women poets with more indifference, was a well of conflict for a playwright. But their lives also spoke to me about the plight of the artist in this culture and more so the plight of female artists. Two of those poets took their own lives. This was not only tragic but also revealing of how painful their struggle was. And don't forget their talent demanded extreme focus and discipline and that in itself is enough to overwhelm.

MM: How did the fictional character of Lady Macbeth figure into this?

RV: The theme of ambition...our culture has a problem with ambitious women. Just look at the last Presidential election when I heard friends and family call Hillary Clinton pure evil. I was told she sold her soul because she was ambitious. I never hear that about a man. I was also intrigued how Shakespeare disregards her suicide by having it happen off stage. On one level, my play is about women who are ambitious like men are but are made to suffer more for it. In a way, I want my audience to think about this - and how unfair it is. You would be surprised how many women dislike ambitious women as well.

MM: Creatively, what is coming up next for you?

RV: The newest thing I am writing (besides a ten-minute play that I just finished) is a novel. I don't want to give away the title but it is so different for me since in one way it is Science Fiction and yet it is a monologue about being human in the distant future. I am also in the process of directing and producing a web-series I wrote.