Eleventh-century Scotland was a violent and disturbed country. Feuding families and cliques fought to preside over trade and territory. For in this vicious and unruly time the castle was the commanding foundation of each rival warlord. For Invasions and attacks on castles were extremely frequent from the rampant Vikings and local Scottish men whom endeavoured to banish the obstinate forces that hindered their way to triumph over the Scots. Political murder and revenge killings were also commonplace.
Macbeth was born into this vicious and brutal environment in 1005, for he was the son of the great family whom fixed their authority on Moray and Ross, which were major areas the Scottish surroundings.
However Macbeth’s family were psychologically ill at ease with one anther and so as a consequence his father was assassinate by his cousins.
So inevitability Macbeth was obviously emotionally troubled by the shocking circumstances regarding his father’s death, and tried to lead a normal life with his wife Gruach, whom was granddaughter to a high king of Scotland.
The present ruler of Scotland was king Duncan, whom had been an extremely ineffectual and unpopular ruler amidst all the civil problems.
Duncan was inevitably murdered when he was thirty-eight, historians believe it might of probably been Macbeth, whom as a result of Duncan’s eagerly awaited death, was coroneted high king of Scotland in 1040 and ruled for seventeen years. For the first ten years in reign he brought the country much needed peace and stability and in doing so he was acknowledged as the reforming king.
Incidentally there is no evidence to conclude that Macbeth dabbled in witchcraft, for indeed like most kings of his time he was a strong supporter of the church. However it is acknowledged that King James the first, whom was in power at the time of Shakespeare’s play righting years, in fact a large minority of the general public were fascinated by the world of witchcraft, for during this time of witch -mania it is stated that horrific numbers of people (usually women) were trial, more often than not executed for actually being a witch would you believe!! So therefore I believe this is one of the foremost reasons why Shakespeare uses the idea of witchcraft as a bases of his play to attract the audience.
Macbeth’s most deceptive obstacle provoked when Duncan’s son Malcolm invaded Scotland in 1054 aided by the English king, ‘Edward the confessor’. Macbeth was killed on the 15th of August 1057 at Peel Ring Lumphanan in Mar. He was buried at Iona, the sacred burial place of the kings of Scotland.
This epic period of Scottish history was the basis for Shakespeare’s MACBETH.
William Shakespeare was an English poet and a playwright, whom is recognized in much of the world as the greatest of all dramatists. His date of birth is traditionally known to be April the 23rd 1564. For Shakespeare was a playwright, not a historian. However he acknowledged that history provided a spectacular basis for plays, for instances like resembling war, conflict, ambition and the downfall of great rulers. Nevertheless William Shakespeare did not simply copy down the exact sources and events that happened in that specific time in history were by his righting concerned.
For he used his Imagination to conjure up superlative characters complementing with truthfully magnificent story lines to achieve maximum dramatic effect. For in Macbeth, I believe that Shakespeare invented one of the most significant characters in this Tragedy that being Macbeth’s beloved wife Lady Macbeth whom I regard as the Lady that corrupted Macbeth’s mind into the killing of king Duncan. I consider it is particularly significant to establish that the play of Macbeth is extensively based on the idea of the ‘corruption of power’. Shakespeare also fabricated the banquet scene much remembered for Macbeth’s hallucinations of the bloody slashed beaten up ghost of Banquo.
The essay is to be written from a director’s point of view, as if I was going to direct the particular scenes that I’ve chosen.
I have nominated to direct these following three scenes from the breathtaking tragedy of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
* Act one scene one
* Act one scene three
* Act one scene five
I have selected these three particular scenes, for the reason that I believe that they give the audience an extremely good representation for the plays basis and plot. For all of these scenes resemble around the aspect of the supernatural, and I believe that the theme of the paranormal (things not looking like they seem) continuously runs through out the play’s plot.
An example for this could be a speech from Lady Macbeth in act one scene five entailing that someone or something could ‘ look like the th’innocent flower, but be the serpent underneath’ or a speech from the witches in Act one scene one were by they chant ‘ Fair is foul and foul is fair’. For as we can no doubt distinguish that these following speeches from the various different characters involve the characteristic of things not looking like they seem.
However I will approach each scene appropriately and direct them in my unique way. I will be looking at the following aspects to achieve utmost dramatic affect and to capture the audience’s attention and most importantly their imagination:
Important factors to consider when directing play
*SOUND EFECTS (MUSIC, BACKGROUND NOISES)
*PRONUNCIATION OF INDIVIDAL WORDS AND SAYINGS (ACCENTS)
My general aim is to manipulate selected characters and renovate their qualities and temperaments etc. For in doing so I will be able to improve the play and I will also work directly in conjunction with the supernatural theme, and develop the plot to create my own adaptation of the play.
The fact that Shakespeare did not leave any stage directions leaves the doorway open for myself as a director to interpret the play, as I desire starting with:
Act one Scene one
Summary of the scene
The scene begins with three witches, who promise to meet Macbeth after his battle ‘Upon the heath’. Their well-known sprits call to them, and as they leave they chant ominous gloomy words.
In any production it is essentially important to capture the audiences attention from the commencement, and then lead them into the play’s plot/storyline. I am going to achieve this by creating remarkably powerful attention-grabbing characters that hopefully will capture the audience’s inspiration and imagination but at the same time will provide a diminutive amount of repulsion and shock for the audience.
The scene is going to begin with an illustration of a cauldron mysteriously situated in the core of a dense and extremely desolate accumulate of motionless rigid hills, it is then suddenly struck by a sudden bolt of lightning which inevitably shocks the audience thus creating maximum dramatic effect. However when the lightning strikes the cauldron it instantaneously lights up with strange red shimmering flames, which will elongate up into the soot black sky above. And almost simultaneously to this peculiar happening three vile witches will emerge from the thin air and gather around the brightly smouldering cauldron; the audience will obviously be memorized by the spectacle of these repulsive witches.
The witches will then exchange a few words with one and other in a muffled and mumbled (incomprehensible) manner, and declare to meet again ‘Upon the Health’. As they leave they will all chant collectively ominous words in a threatening style, for instants ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair, hover through the fog and filthy air’. This speech coincidently introduces the theme of ‘things not looking like they seem’, which will run as a major paradox during the succession of the play.
I feel that the setting is an extremely important issue to consider when directing a play, for it is one of the main features that captures the audience’s attention and imagination, for that is the principle why I have carefully chosen to set this particular scene deep in the mountainous expanse of the Scottish countryside. The weather whilst this scene is being performed is going to be extremely blusterous, for there will be a heavy down pour of rain and of course thunder and lightning, for I feel that the aspect of the weather will intensify the grisly atmosphere felt by the audience.
By using modern day technology I am going to aim to craft the witch’s appearances as hideous and deformed as I possibly can get them, for in doing so I believe it will shock and frighten the audience, so again as a consequence it will cause maximum dramatic effect. The witches will appear similar to the long-established witch that we all distinguish for having long pointy noises, covered in moulds and warts. The witches that will appear in my set will take on these characteristics, but be more gruesome and shocking than ever before. Since they will have deformed heads no eyes, and they will also have a very thin amount of blackish white greasy hair. This again will add to the shockingly grisly tension sensed by the audience.
The witches will all be clothed in jet-black cloaks that will flutter in the blustery winds on peak of the uninhabited hills of Scotland.
For all I have been attempting to create throughout this scene is a sensation of ghastly images that will hopefully shock the audience and capture their imagination, so they will be eager to view the remanding part of the play.
Act one scene three
Summary of scene
The scene commences with the three unchanged witches recognize from the opening scene. For they are awaiting Macbeth whom is returning from the battle against the Swedes, he is accompanied with his gallant and passionate fellow Scotsmen, Banquo. However conversely the witches chant a spell preparing for the arrival of Macbeth. They greet him with the forecast that he will become the thane of cawdor and shortly afterwards will be suited King of Scotland. Banquo obviously accepts that the whitches might be speaking the truth and so as a consequence he demands to know his own future, and the witches prophesy that Banquo’s decedents will be kings, but he himself will not. The witches refusing to respond to any other questions vanish.
Ross on the other hand reports the news to Duncan’s delight of the triumphant Macbeth. Shortly following in the scene Macbeth is amazed to hear that he is to be Thane of Cawdor, for Angus explains that the deceitful thane had been sentenced to death. Banquo also warns Macbeth that the witch’s predictions might lead to evil. Macbeth then considers the ethical implications of the witch’s predictions. For he is horrified at the thought of murdering Duncan, nevertheless he decides to accept whatever has to be. For he eve lies to Banquo about these fraudulent thoughts.
In the opening segment of this scene the witches encourage Macbeth to believe that the prophecies that they foretell are true. And in addition to this I consider that the influence from these unholy predictions, manipulate Macbeth in to taking into deliberation that homicide on king Duncan could be a possibility.
For the reason that Macbeth and Banquo believe these extremely outlandish but overwhelming predictions, and are oblivious that they got informed by three weird strangers that appear from no were, I am going to produce an altered variety of witches. For instead of having creepy, repulsive and evil witches I am going to do quite the opposite, and compose the witches as irresistible ladies for this contradicts as things not being like they seem. For exploiting the beautifully attractive witches I deem that it will make the fact that Macbeth and Banquo did not suspected anything to be immoral wrong with the witches presence and forecasts to be convincingly believable for the audience. For I feel men are easy manipulated and subdued by strikingly eye-catching ladies, and that is the foremost reason way I have chosen to use this basis for the witches in this particular scene.
I feel the setting of my play is an exceptionally significant factor to consider for it is one of the main features that capture the audience’s attention. I have chosen to set my play in the desolate mountainous area of the Scottish countryside. It will be nighttime and there will be a mysteriously bright glow from the moon beaming down through the eerie thick mist that lies silently on the rocky outcrops on the bleak Scottish moorland. I feel that the occurrence of this creepy environment will intensify the atmosphere and keep the audience ‘hanging of their seats’.
The scene will commence with Macbeth and Banquo striding across dense Scottish countryside examining the hectic proceedings during the battle, in which they succeeded in conquering the Swedes. The weather conditions will be bright and sunny, for I feel this will add to the joie de vivre atmosphere. They will be dressed in war-like clothing so the audience will instantly relate them to have being in some sort of conflict.
When Macbeth and Banquo are working through the rocky mountainous expanse of the Scottish hills, they catch a glimpse of a lustrous bright light coming form the distance, an being the courageous men they are they go and explore the source of this bright light. And of course the audience will know at this stage that the cause of this light will actually be the evil witches, waiting to perform their malevolence actions upon them. An evidently this process of the audience knowing something that the characters do not know is in fact called dramatic irony, and this dramatic irony will also intensify the audiences emotions and awareness on the play.
Going back to a director’s point of view on things, I will play a ghostly type of melody when Macbeth and Banquo spot the dazzling light in the distance, for I feel again that this will add to the intensity of the creepy factor of the atmospheric tension felt by the audience.
In the meantime as Macbeth and Banquo make their way through the mountainous terrain I am going to use modern day technology to produce regular images/flashbacks of the three ugly deformed witches dancing around the shimmering fire (the bright light seen by Macbeth & Banquo) chanting evil witchlike ethereal sayings like ‘here I have a pilot’s thumb, Wrecked as homeward he did come’ or ‘but in a sieve I’ll thither sail’ And like a rat without a tail’. By performing these weird and wonderful images I hope to make my presentation of Macbeth fascinating and at the same time terrifying to watch.
Eventually Macbeth and Banquo will discover the source of the bright light, and to their amazement they make out three figures hunched up against a tree near to the fire. The audience fearing for the men’s lives will be kept in suspense, as they know that those figures are in fact the wicked witches. However they will be amiably surprised by the outcome. For instead of the witches being ugly decrepit and deformed like seen in the first act, I have chosen to illustrate their appearance as quite the reverse, for I am going to have them looking as irresistible bond bitches.
For these personalized witches acting to be randy young bitches will defiantly excite the audience, but at the same time I believe it will run their emotions whiled, because they will be equally thrilled to see three young irresistibly attractive ladies manipulate the defenceless Macbeth and Banquo in front of their eyes, but at the same time will be anxious to see what will become of them, knowing full well that they are really the witches seen before underneath their beautiful disguises. The witches will be dressed in a tight low cut top with firm leather mini skirts and high heeled boots for this outfit is designed to shock the audience not to mention Macbeth and Banquo!!
I will direct the witches to speak in a self-assured but scheming voice at the same time. This I judge will make Macbeth and Banquo believe in these extreme predictions and together will make it more realistically believable for the audience also. Obviously Macbeth and Banquo would be bewildered and astounded by these spirits and their prophecies e.g. line 142 were Banquo says ‘Look how our partner’s rapt’ he’s implying that they are spellbound.
I would consequently direct total silence after the witches vanish, to add towards the disorientated and dumbfounded atmosphere. Continuing with the directing theme I feel that the next part of this scene plays a vital roll in the concluding part of the entire play, so as a consequence it needs to be performed exceptionally efficiently. For what will take place next will be that the audience will be presented with the characters Angus and Ross for the first time. And so because they are unfamiliar characters to the audience’s recollection I will dress these men in royal like clothes for the reason that they are both thanes.
Angus and Ross will deliver the news of the enchantment of the king concerning Macbeth’s victorious win over the Swedes. Ross will follow steadily explaining the current situation regarding the ‘Thane of Cawdor’ and will eventually pronounce Macbeth with the greatly admired tile of ‘thane of Cawdor’. So obviously Macbeth at this point will realize that the prophecies made by the witches are starting to unfold. Therefore I will direct Macbeth to conduct himself in a stunned and gob smacked manner, this could be illustrate by his facial expressions this could be accomplished by him exemplifying a guilty and mortified smile or by his general body language, for this I sense will exaggerate the traumatic atmosphere.
Following this encounter with Angus and Ross, Macbeth suddenly begins to give you the expression that he is keeping his thoughts to himself. For this can be seen in lines 126 to 141 were by he is speaking to himself about the horrified thought of killing Duncan, an instants for this could be on line 136 ‘ Whose horrid image doth unfix my hair and make my seated heart knock at my ribs against the use of nature’ or line 138 ‘My thought, whose murder yet is but fascinated’. As Macbeth is speaking to himself I will direct him to walk up and down the stage with a worried gaze on his face, for this will increase the initiative of Macbeth showing what emotional strained and anxiousness he is going through to the audience.
This scene will end after the dialog were by Macbeth is talking to himself, for I feel this will keep the audience in suspense, for they will all be penetrating all their thoughts into what is going to become of the rapidly deteriorating Macbeth. This kind of ‘cliff-hanger’ will also add to the apprehensive atmosphere.