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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: October ::
Re: Macbeth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1015.  Wednesday, 8 October 1997.

[1]     From:   Rinda Frye <
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D       ate:    Tuesday, 7 Oct 1997 13:56:18 EDT
        Subj:   SHK 8.0999  Re: Macbeth

[2]     From:   Jean Peterson <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 7 Oct 1997 19:43:29 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.1007  Re: Macbeth


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Rinda Frye <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 Oct 1997 13:56:18 EDT
Subject: Re: Macbeth
Comment:        SHK 8.0999  Re: Macbeth

Eric Salehi asks if anyone has seen a production with the witches and
the 3 fates.  All right, I confess-I've just finished directing one.
Actually, I'm also guilty of keeping the witches involved in the play
right up until the end.  This production is designed to tour college and
high school classes locally, and so must be done with limited costumes,
no lighting effects, and only 5 actors.  It must also finish within a 50
minute class period-not an easy task, and one that focuses on the
Macbeths, the witches, Banquo and the Macduffs, but completely
disregards the larger world of the play.  Since the 5 actors must each
play about 6 roles, the witches are generally played by everyone in the
cast, at one point or another.  They have a large blood red web with
thread , spool, and scissors.  They are clothed in hooded black capes,
with sheer red cloth over their faces.  The web becomes the caldron,
when needed, which they hold over head while spinning; it covers Macbeth
for the apparition scene which is handled as a possession-he moves his
lips for the apparitions while one of the witches speaks the lines.  The
witches then double as the murders- in the same garb-which makes his
lines "your spirits shine through you" and "was it not yesterday we
spoke together" resonate in an interesting way.  They also fill in for
the servants in the Macbeths' castle-beginning with the sleepwalking
scene and onward to the end, so that as the violence in the play
progresses, their presence is increasingly felt.  By Macbeth's last
scene on the battlements (Tomorrow, etc.), all of the messengers-the
cream faced loon- and Seyton himself are witches.  One of the witches
even fights on Macbeth's side in the last battle-"come, Fate, unto the
list".  When Macbeth is killed, he is covered in the red web.  Their
presence throughout the piece seems to have a strongly positive effect
on our high school audiences (the only ones who have seen it as yet).
For me, their presence helps greatly a director who was required to find
means other than light and recorded sound to achieve the nightmarish
quality of the play.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
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Date:           Tuesday, 7 Oct 1997 19:43:29 -0400
Subject: 8.1007  Re: Macbeth
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.1007  Re: Macbeth

>>does anyone know of a production in which the witches figured as the
>>Three Fates?

It maybe stretches the definition, but I think Kurosawa's old woman in
the forest is evocative in that way-there she sits, spinning away, with
full knowledge of the outcome of the story and bemused mockery for the
futility of human endeavor and ambition.  Much has been said about
Kurosawa's use of Noh drama in her characterization, but it would be
like him to bridge the gap between east & west with a nod to Greek
mythology.

Cheers!
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 

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