Boston’s most prominent business leaders will perform in Macbeth, William Shakespeare’s tale of ambition gone awry, at Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre on May 29.

The event, Shakespeare and Leadership, features:

  • Paul Grogan, CEO, The Boston Foundation
  • Richard Holbrook, CEO, Eastern Bank
  • Chris Mayer, publisher, The Boston Globe
  • James E. Rooney, executive director, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority
  • Jim Roosevelt, CEO, Tufts Health Plan
  • Phyllis R. Yale, senior adviser, Bain & Company
  • Kerry Healey, president-elect of Babson College and former Massachusetts lieutenant governor

The executives will take on roles from the play in a staged reading, followed by a panel discussion focusing on leadership issues raised in the tragedy.

Issues raised still resonate today

The event is an extension of the partnership between Suffolk University and Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, and Artistic Director Steve Maler says he’s thrilled with the response from the business community and the support he’s received from the University.

“We’re eager to explore other prisms through which we can see Shakespeare, and Macbeth’s ‘vaulting ambition’ and abuse of power are issues that feel quite contemporary,” says Maler.

Although Commonwealth Shakespeare Company has been presenting Shakespeare and ... the Law for a decade -- most recently at the Modern Theatre -- this is only the second year for Shakespeare and Leadership.

“Last year, we presented Coriolanus on the Boston Common, and we found so much of that play was about how Coriolanus led, who influenced his decisions and what his goals were, that we started talking to local executives about how they approach these kinds of decisions on a day-to-day basis.”

Six high-profile business leaders agreed to perform in a staged reading of Coriolanus last year, and all six are returning this year for Macbeth.

“We blend professional actors from our company with the business executives so that the executives feel supported, but I’ve been so impressed by their willingness to take a leap of faith and step into these roles,” Maler says.”

Students involved in production

In addition, students from the Theater Department will serve as assistant director, assistant stage manager and dramaturg.

Following the reading, the executives will talk about the issues of leadership, with participation from Sawyer Business School professors and Theater Department Chair Marilyn Plotkins.

“We are thrilled with Suffolk’s commitment to this program and hope that it will introduce new audiences to the Modern Theatre and provide a new perspective on Shakespeare’s plays,” says Maler.