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The Killings Tale

No play has more bizarre superstitions attached to it than Macbeth, Shakespeare’s bloody tale of witchcraft and murderous ambition. Whether this is because of the supernatural aspects of the plot itself, or tragedies that supposedly have befallen those who present—or even read—the play, is unclear. (According to folklore, Lincoln reread Macbeth the night before his assasination.) Theater folk dare not even speak the dread name, calling it “the Scottish play” instead. Kenneth Branagh—director and star of Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet and Love’s Labour’s Lost—has referred to Macbeth as “the Scottish gentleman.” Quoting lines from Macbeth—outside the context of rehearsals—is considered verboten. So playwright W.A. Frankonis is utilizing a rich Shakespearian tradition of fear and paranoia with The Killings Tale, set in 1606 during the rehearsals for the very first production of Macbeth. While the actors are trying to learn their parts, a ghost—or so it seems—commits a series of murders modeled on the plot of Hamlet. Shakespeare himself is both suspect and detective in this mix of history, Shakespearian lore and fiction, trying to solve the mystery before more of his colleagues are killed.

The Killings Tale, directed by Ed. Lange, is a world premiere being presented by the New York State Theatre Institute. NYSTI presented a workshop version of the play in 1999, while Frankonis—who also penned NYSTI’s acclaimed A Tale of Cinderella—first conceived the play in 1988. (Long before the opening of the film Shakespeare in Love, as the theater likes to point out.)

NYSTI will present The Killings Tale at the Schacht Fine Arts Center on the campus of Russell Sage College in Troy beginning Sunday (Oct. 13) and running until Oct. 26. Tickets are $19 adults, $10 children 12 and under, with discounts for seniors and students. Special group rates are available. Call 274-3256 for showtimes and information, or visit

David Lindley and Wally Ingram

To label David Lindley an unusually accomplished session guitarist is accurate—but, to a certain extent, it’s also damning with faint praise: It’s true that Lindley has a résumé packed with sideman stints for bigshots like Warren Zevon, James Taylor, Ry Cooder and Bob Dylan (just to name a few); and it’s true that from 1971 to 1981 he was Jackson Browne’s right-hand man, both on stage and in studio. But Lindley, who with percussionist Wally Ingram will play the Van Dyck on Saturday and the Iron Horse Music Hall on Wednesday, has got himself a notable career all of his own, and anyone who thinks a guitar-for-hire is by definition lacking in inspiration or adventurousness will have to think again.

Lindley has always had his own projects (even when busy providing support for more celebrated players), and they’ve been nothing if not idiosyncratic. Though Lindley gained early notoriety as one of Southern California’s best traditional-music instrumentalists (winning the Topanga Canyon banjo and fiddle competitions five times as a teenager), his interests were more far-ranging than that. He formed his own group, Kaleidoscope, as a means of incorporating rock & roll with roots music, and while working with Browne on the singer-songwriter beat, he joined forces with Cooder, the famously eclectic guitar guru, to turn out the albums Bop Till You Drop and the soundtrack to the film The Long Riders.

Like his on-again, off-again collaborator Cooder, Lindley scavenges world music passionately for inspiration. In addition to the old six-string, he’s been known to wield the kona, the weissenborn, the Hawaiian lap steel, the chumbas, the oud and the bouzouki, and his most famous project, El Rayo-X, gained a cult following for their blend of American folk and blues with a healthy spicing of reggae and other world-musical styles.

Lindley’s present bandmate, Wally Ingram, has spent his time supporting marquee talent, too: Browne, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Art Garfunkel and Col. Bruce Hampton all have enlisted Ingram to pound the skins behind him. Seemingly, the duo haven’t absorbed any startripping tendencies from their employers, though: According to Lindley’s Web site, their current configuration should be billed as “Mr. Dave Meets the Wally Llama,” “Twango Bango Deluxe” or the “The Beavis Butthead of World Music.”

David Lindley and Wally Ingram will play two shows at the Van Dyck (237 Union St., Schenectady) on Saturday (Oct. 12) at 7 and 9:30 PM. Tickets are $25. For more information, call 381-1111. The duo will also play the Iron Horse Music Hall (20 Center St., Northampton, Mass.) on Wednesday (Oct. 16). Tickets for the 7 PM show are $19. For more information, call (800) THE-TICK.

Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe

You’ve probably never heard someone play the mbira (mm-bee-ra). You probably don’t even know what one is. Well, if you’d like to educate yourself, and there’s no better time and place to do it than this weekend at Time & Space Limited in Hudson. That’s because the internationally recognized Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe are back for two days by popular demand, and they ain’t your garden-variety mbira players.

Together, Cosmas Magaya and Beauler Dyoko (pictured) make up the Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe. They are, as you may have guessed, from Zimbabwe, and represent today’s respected elder generation of mbira players. Magaya has been playing the mbira, a traditional African instrument made from hand-forged metal keys bound to a wooden sound board, since he was 8 years old. He has toured the United States and Europe with the renowned Mhuri yekwa Rwizi mbira group, with whom he has been affiliated for the past 25 years. Dyoko, the “Queen of Mbira Music” and Zimbabwe’s first female mbira recording artist, will join Magaya on stage.

You can expect singing, stories, and dance to accompany the performance by the two mbira virtuosos. For centuries, mbira music has been an integral part of the culture of the Shona, who make up the majority of Zimbabwe’s population. Its most important function in Shona society is the direct link it provides the Shona with their deceased ancestors and tribal guardians. But it’s also a fixture at weddings, ceremonies, and recently, government events. Dyoko has regularly been invited to play at the opening of the Zimbabwean Parliament.

The Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe will perform Saturday (Oct. 12) at 8 PM and Sunday (Oct. 13) at 7 PM at Time & Space Limited (434 Columbia St., Hudson). Tickets are $10, $7.50 for members. For more information, call 822-8448.

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