Macbeth

Content Group

Overview
The Macbeths: Edwin Forrest and Charlotte Cushman

Probably because of being heavily cut, Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's shortest plays, and even so the Hecate scenes may have been re-extended possibly by Middleton, since the interpolated songs at 3.5.13 and 4.1.43 are his. The play is almost uniformly gloomy and without humor: even the sardonic Porter scene may add to its horror more than providing comic relief as De Quincey argues. The evocation of evil is as strong as in any play, including its analogues in Henry VI and Richard III. The role of Lady Macbeth is held to be one of Shakespeare's most vivid evocations of a powerful but misguided woman who pays for her misjudgment of her own resilience: many famous actresses (including Mrs. David P. BowersAdelaide Ristori, Ellen Terry, Mrs. Patrick Campbell, Lily Langtree, Judith Anderson, and Janet Suzman) have excelled in the part. Ironically, the historical originals of the Macbeths were among Scotland's better rulers but the affiliation of Scottish King James I with Banquo invited Shakespeare to demonize his rival (as depicted on this Edwardian postcard). All too often the play is staged in semidarkness (compare RSC 1983 and National Theatre 1993) and the Scottish setting and accents can be a challenge. However, its brevity and sinister effects have made the play popular. (For sinister effects, compare Orson Welles's 1935-6 Negro Theater of NYC production, Margaret Webster's 1942 production and Cal Shakes's 2002 production.)

Images
Macbeth, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, 2004
Macbeth, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, 2004
Macbeth, California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002
Macbeth, California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002
Macbeth, California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002
The Macbeths: Charles Kean and His Wife
The Macbeths: Alan Howard and Anastasia Hille
Macbeth: WPA Federal Theatre Project in New York: Negro Theatre, ca. 1935
Macbeth, I.iv: Orson Welles, Negro Theatre Project of NYC
Set for Macbeth at the Bruns Theatre: California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002.
The Witches and their Familiars in Macbeth at the Bruns Theatre: California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002.
The Macbeths at the Bruns Theatre: California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002.
The Drunken Porter in Macbeth at the Bruns Theatre: California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002.
Macbeth at the Bruns Theatre: California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002.
Lady Macbeth (Mia Barron) at the Bruns Theatre: California Shakespeare Theatre, 2002.
First Folio Shakespeare Festival,Oakbrook, IL.: Macbeth Set,2001.

Pages

Slideshows
Bibliography

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Macbeth at Talkin' Broadway.

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Except where otherwise specified, all written commentary is © 2016, Hugh Macrae Richmond