Posts from the ‘Macbeth’ Category

This Week’s Podcast: Season 1, Episode 11

Hey everyone, the lastest podcast episode is live. This week, I was joined by Matt Mitler, director and founder of Theatre Group Dzieci, whose fascinating production of Macebth I saw last week. Listen in:

(I know about the problems with the RSS feed and previous episodes, and I’m working to resolve the problem. My apologies.)


Dzieci Makbet

Earlier this evening, I went to see a production of Macbeth in Brooklyn at The Old Stone House, done by Dzieci Theatre, a company of Gypsies. (Incidentally, I had been under the impression that “Gypsy” was an inappropriate term and “Roma” was proper. As this company advertises itself as a Gypsy company, I asked one of the people there about it. She said, “Gypsy, Roma, call us whatever. We’re family is what we are.” I thought that was kind of wonderful.)

It was not just a play but an event, as it opened with a party, where I got my fortune told, participated in a healing ceremony and got free wine. Then came the very unique performance. It was hardly what one usually expects at theatre nowadays. It was done by only three actors, all of whom knew the entire play and rotated parts. No role was played by any one actor. Rather a garment (like a scarf or hat) represented a character. More importantly, who would play each part was improvised, and thus, every performance is different.

But while it wasn’t classical or as expected, it was so raw and human. The actors handled their body in a way that was both graceful and jittery, but so basic. Everything was from the gut, also because it was so fast-paced. The script was edited to cut the performance down to about 90 minutes.

Here’s how the website describes it, and quite accurately:

For Dzieci’s chamber version of Macbeth, the ensemble has learned all the lines, of every part, through a process of oral transmission, so as to create maximum improvisational possibilities. In performance, we do not know who will be playing any given role at any given time. As presented by a traveling family of Gypsies, the one-act presentation creates the impression of a ritual or ceremony. A very dark ceremony.

Employing haunting folk songs and chants from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, Theatre Group Dzieci explores (and explodes), the very essence of theatre and storytelling in their exuberant rendition of Shakespeare’s classic.

While there are only two scheduled performances remaining, this is apparently a play that the company has done on and off for many years, and will actually do in your own living room if you hire them for it! Keep up with them. I’ll definitely see more of their plays.

Watch Sir Patrick Stewart’s “Macbeth” Online

In case you missed it, you can watch the entirety of Sir Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth online, here at PBS. Hopefully our most recent podcast will make sense now.

This Week’s Podcast: Season 1, Episode 9

Hey everyone. The most recent episode of our podcast is live. This week, Susan and I talk about the production of Macbeth, starring Sir Patrick Stewart, which recently aired on PBS.

You can listen to it by subscribing via this RSS feed, clicking the link in the sidebar on the right, or just clicking here. (Give it some time to load; it’s a large file.)

If you have any thoughts on the show or this episode, or anything you’d like us to talk about next week, feel free to leave a comment here on this blog, or write to me at Enjoy!

Don’t Forget: Macbeth on PBS on Wednesday

For those who don’t know, an update. For those who do know, a reminder. PBS will air Sir Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth on October 6 at 9 p.m. I saw this production on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and it was excellent. (Not surprising, given it had the Bald Man in the title role.) But I was in literally the last row, so getting a close-up image, even if it’s only on TV as opposed to the theater, will be a new experience.

(On a related note, Susan and I talked about the differences between live theater and film in our last podcast. Check it out if you haven’t heard it.)

Anyway, I’ll be sure to report back after watching it, and I’d love to hear from all of you as well. In the meantime, there are some great extras on the PBS website to check out.

No, Donalbain. I am Thy Father.

Here is a video from a group of high school kids who, as part of project, translated Act V of Macbeth into the Star Wars universe. Lightsabers, the force and all. It’s outstanding. I know people have mixed Shakespeare and Star Wars together before, but these are a group of high schoolers, and the quality of this is actually pretty outstanding. I just love it. Check it out.

Reacting to Violence in “Macbeth”

In Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, Harold Bloom says, “The violence of Macbeth doubtless impresses us more than it did the drama’s contemporary audiences. Many if not most of those who attended Macbeth also joined the large crowds who thronged public executions in London, including drawings-and-quarterings as well as more civilized beheadings.”

Bloom goes on to discuss the violence in Titus Andronicus as well, but it’s important to note that the violence in the two plays is of a very different nature. Titus Andronicus is full of blood and guts and gore. Macbeth, though a play about violence, isn’t actually all that gruesome.

Which is why I disagree with Bloom. Indeed, Shakespeare’s original audience was more desensitized to gore. They were used to seeing acts of violence, such as public beheadings. For this reason, it seems clear to me that modern audiences are more disturbed by Titus Andronicus than was its first audience.

But Macbeth is different. It’s a play about mass slaughter, not horrible violence against individuals. And our history, unlike Shakespeare’s, is full of such things. Of course, Shakespeare’s audience was aware of some great dictators, but our history books include Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Francois Duvalier and more. We live in a world where mass murder is not a shock. It’s disturbingly common. Macbeth’s ability to kill in the thousands, disturbing though it is, probably doesn’t shock those of us who are familiar with murder in the millions.

When visiting Malcolm in England, Macduff says, “Not in the legions / Of horrid hell can come a devil more damn’d / In evils to top Macbeth” (IV.iii.55-57). When I hear these lines, I say, “I can name a few.” Shakespeare’s first audience might have believed it.

Your thoughts?