The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0220  Thursday, 3 February 2005

From:           John Webb <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 3 Feb 2005 10:48:27 -0000
Subject:        The Save Macbeth Campaign

This extract is from an article which covers all of page 5 in The Times
(London), 3rd February 2005:

"Double, double toil and trouble: Shakespeare's portrayal of Macbeth as
a blood-soaked assassin manipulated by a cunning wife has been branded a
travesty by politicians who want to restore the king to his proper place
in his nation's history - and cash in on it. Members of the Scottish
Parliament want to rescue the 11th-century monarch from what they claim
is the 'bad press' of the play.

The MSPs have submitted a motion to the Scottish Parliament which, if
agreed, will see 2005, the 1,000th anniversary of Macbeth's birth, as
the year in which he acquires a new halo and his image as the tragic,
twisted villain of the Scottish play is dumped in favour of that of a
cuddly, peace-loving monarch.

The motion calls for the Parliament to make arrangements to mark
Macbeth's birthday and regrets that he is 'misportrayed in the
inaccurate Shakespeare play when he was in fact a successful Scottish king'.

The 20 MSPs who have signed the motion are also calling for the
establishment of a Macbeth heritage trail in the north-east of Scotland
to boost both tourism in the area, which contains a Macbeth Well and a
Macbeth Cairn.

Alex Johnstone, the Conservative MSP who is spearheading the Save
Macbeth campaign, said yesterday: 'Macbeth gets a bad press from his
association with Shakespeare. He was very probably a good king and he
should be given an amnesty. Of course Shakespeare used sources for his
plays and of course he is allowed dramatic licence. But the issue here
is that everyone assumes it is Scottish history,' Mr Johnstone said.

'Many people feel that Mel Gibson's interpretation of William Wallace in
the film Braveheart was far from accurate and this is precisely the same
thing. It is about recapturing our true history rather then settling for
the myths which surround it.'

He revealed that his interest in the issue was sparked after being
contacted by Professor John Beatty of Brooklyn College, part of the City
University of New York, who says that too many students who study the
play do not realise that Macbeth was a real person and that Shakespeare
'defamed' him. Professor Beatty said: 'Naming 2005 the Year of Macbeth
would help to correct the misconceptions of a long-reigning Scottish
king (1040-1057) and the misunderstandings that led to his depiction as
a usurper of the throne.'

Certainly, many historians agree with Mr Johnstone and Professor Beatty
that Shakespeare's version bears little resemblance to the real Macbeth. "

The full article is here:

John Webb

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