Modern Theatrical Practices Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:25:15
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The play Macbeth¯¿½ was written by William Shakespeare in 1606 and is thought to have been written for King James I. The play was found by Shakespeare in The History of Scotland and in there it was suggested that Banquo had helped Macbeth in the killing of Duncan but Shakespeare cleverly left this out as King James I was an ancestor of Banquo and the thought of regicide in his family would have killed Shakespeares career and most probably, he would have been killed himself.

For maximum effect, I believe the best stage for this play would be a proscenium arch. This is so the actors will always be facing the audience and when the apparitions happen, the audience will not be able to see being the gauze and alter which would spoil the effect given. Also the audiences seat will not go that high up for the same reason.

Originally, the audience should react normally to the acting going on, then when Macbeth enters with thunder booming about, and I feel like this should scare the audience to show that something bad is going to happen. Throughout the Apparitions I think the audience should feel a small bit of fear but I expect them to really understand what is happening on stage so the fear cannot be too strong. I believe fear is an important feeling as it symbolizes that something evil is happening on stage. At the same time I want the audience to be excited and on the edge of their seat, wondering what is going to happen next.

In this scene Macbeth again visits the witches who he thinks are helping him. The Witches are of course evil characters and dont have his good at heart. This is a fault of Macbeth¯¿½s, as he doesnt realize the Witches are evil an thinks he is unbeatable until it is too late and Macduff, with the help of Malcolm, has rallied support to overthrow him.

The first time Macbeth meets the Witches they predict that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor, King of Scotland and that the children of Banquo will also become kings. These predictions lead to the murders of Duncan and Banquo. This meeting tells Macbeth to Beware Macduff¯¿½ (IV, i, 70) and leads to the murders of Lady Macduff, her children and the majority of the Macduff castle servants. The witches also lull Macbeth into a false sense of security by telling him that ¦for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth (lines 79-80).

Macduff was born by Caesarean section and so isnt¯¿½ born of woman. Macbeth¯¿½s security is also lowered when he is told that he is safe until Great Burnham Wood to High Dunsinane Hill (line 92). Macbeth believes this to e impossible so sees himself as indestructible but this prophecy comes true when the English soldiers carry branches up to the hill to disguise how many of them there actually are. These two lapses in security will lead to the eventual downfall of Macbeth.

The scene is described as a miserable place near Forres¯¿½ (The royal castle of Scotland); Thunder is also described as happening. I think that it is vital to get across the fact that this place is barren and contaminated by immorality due to the company of the witches. I would set this scene in the hours of darkness, there will be fire-torches stuck in the ground providing some dim light to show that it is an isolated area and not a common rest ground for people. Light bulbs will be used, not actual fire as fire may cause a safety hazard. Also Lighting will be coming from behind a gauze, which is hanging towards the back of the stage. This will enhance the effect that the place is evil. The torches on the floor will give the audience the impression of a medieval setting.

They will be randomly arranged around the stage to show a mild, or delicate case of the chaos that is linked with the Witches. The gauze will be hung towards the back and no light will be shone behind it until the apparitions, this is so the apparitions can come from behind the gauze so the audience cannot see them coming out of a cauldron for example. Seeing something rising from a cauldron cannot be made to look good in a theatre and may come off as looking tacky. The actual stage itself will be decorated to look like a cave, mould and dirt should be on the stage floor and small boulders scattered over the ground. I think that an actual cauldron would be a bit odd looking seen as nothing will be rising out of it and also a cauldron is slightly pantomime.

So instead of a cauldron I think that a large, stone alter, with a large bowl shaped crevice carved into it will be well received. There will be a light bulb in the base of the bowl crevice, which will shine up into the witchs faces as they move around it. This would create strange shadows; which would make the Witches look physically evil. My Witches dont actually look evil, only ragged and dirty. This would make more sense to portray them as this as Macbeth does not see the witches as evil so if the looked normal, this could show why Macbeth is tricked by them. The audience would be able to see the evilness of the Witches as well as feel it in their actions. The rock effect would be more natural looking and a fire isnt necessarily needed as the evil ingredients generate their own heat. The natural look would also mean that it doesnt have to disappear in a puff of smoke like an iron cauldron would.

The three Witches are moving around the rock whilst describing the evil ingredients they are throwing in. They will speak gently, but not essentially evilly. The voices used should be enough to tell the audience that these people are not pure and good. I think that although the witches are fundamentally evil and therefore dont really need a reason to hate Macbeth it would be original to give them a reason. Macbeth will be wearing his feudal colours when he finds the witches. Two of the witches will be wearing ragged clothing but it will be obvious to the audience that some of this clothing bears the colours of Macbeth, suggesting that these too were once loyal servants to him but due to Macbeth committing an evil act against them, or by an evil such as the one that is corrupting Macbeth now, they have turned.

Two of my Witches will be men, enhancing the idea that they were maybe soldiers of Macbeth who were punished by their master and so have decided to oppose him. The third will be wearing clothes that were once very expensive, a dress of a noble lady of the period, torn and ripped by time. She may have been an old love of Macbeth who was dropped by the man and is now bitter. The clothing of the witches will strengthen the atmosphere of evil that is opposing Macbeth; but that it is his own fault that evil has picked him out to be converted. The Witches wont have evil cackling voices but instead keep normal human voices; showing that there is still some humanity left in them at the same time as showing that humanity can be so easily converted to evil.

Once the spell is completed Hecate, the Queen of Witchcraft enters. Expanding the idea that the witches were once subjects of Macbeth I think that Hecate could also be an ex-subject. I however like that idea that Hecate is a ghost like figure of an old woman, maybe an ex queen or his mother, dressed out in normal clothes. She will not be raggedly dressed but instead his clothes will be fresh and clean. I believe she could be his mother and ghost like o show that it could all be his sub-conscience, screening that he really isnt evil and feels bad about what he did. The three witches¯¿½ who accompany her will also be cleanly dressed, wearing the Armour and colours of their lord (they will be men-at-arms, footmen etc¦). Hecates lines are often spoken in a cackling way but this wont be very appropriate for my Hecate.

As she speaks her lines the lord (Hecate) will slowly walk back and forth in front of the Witches. When this small speech is finished a song and dance is described as occurring. Instead of this my three main Witches will get down on one knee and bow to the lord. They will remain like this for several seconds until the lord (Hecate) and his entourage has exited the stage. When Macbeth enters there will be a loud clap of thunder issued in a surround sound bomb followed by the light behind the gauze flashing for a few seconds to simulate lightning. Macbeth will have a faint spotlight of white light will shine on him. The light will not be too strong to show that the good that is left in Macbeth is waning and it will take little persuasion from an evil force to drive him all the way to eternal damnation. The thunder and lighting will alert the audience that something important is happening.

When Macbeth speaks he will have a deep, booming voice. Clearly belonging to the higher orders although now and again in his dialogue his voice will wobble and break into that of an underling, like the Stereotypical voice of the witches. His voice will do this when he speaks of murder or of other foul acts he has committed. This means that it will happen mainly after Lennox has informed him of Macduffs flight to England. This will show the audience that Macbeth would be a strong (Psychologically) man if he could stand up to the handling and dishonesty of the Witches.

When the witches speak to Macbeth they will not do so in a dissident manner as they will consider themselves to be his equal, as they know they have power over him. Shakespeare also reveals something by making them speak in blank verse, the manner usually reserved for upper class characters. Possibly the witches really are upper class characters? This is why I have decided to portray the witches as possible subjects of Macbeth.

Shortly before the first apparition appears the 3 witches all speak together. I think this (Come high or low: Thyself and office deftly show.) should be spoken softly, inviting Macbeth to follow them in the abyss. Then I shall have the stone alter to make an exploding sound and a bolt of lightning should fill the stage up with light. Then I would establish the gauze to its bursting effect. The whole area in front of the gauze would be blacked out apart from the dim spotlight still on Macbeth, as it is he who is being shown the apparition. The light behind the gauze will be a dreary grey/white glow and will appear rather dusty. Then as if from nowhere the first apparition will appear. Really the suit of armor will slowly rise from the ground, the actor get up from the floor, but due to the rock alter obstructing the audiences view, it will look as if it is rising from the altar.

The apparition is an armored head. This doesnt mean that its a head with arms. That would be stupid. It is in fact a head with a helmet on. I think that it is hard to actually portray a floating head on stage without special camera effects like in a film. Therefore I will make the armed head¯¿½ into an actual armored warrior. The helmet will be one that encloses the bearers head fully, so hiding the face inside. All the lights in front of the gauze will go out apart from the one in the alter and the light on Macbeth. The helmet may cause the voice of the head¯¿½ to be muffled so I believe a pre recorded speech by the actor would be better to use in this case, and also it would have a surround sound effect to frighten the crowd maybe. This is to show that what the Witches are doing is evil.

I would make my armored warrior wear exactly the same clothes as Macbeth, but he will not notice this. The identical clothing will act as a testament that is Macbeth himself who is causing him to fall from grace. The warrior will chant the word Macbeth louder and louder as he walks around. He will do this once until reaching the point from which he appeared. He will appear to leave but will turn around at the last moment and say, in a deep, booming voice, beware Macduff¯¿½.

He will then go on with Beware the Thane of Fife¯¿½ (Macduffs title) before ordering Macbeth Dismiss me, enough! He will be one of the only characters in the play who will speak to Macbeth in such a way and not cause Macbeth to become angry. I think that the strong contrast of the long loud chants and the short booming beware Macduff¯¿½ will enhance the fact that Macduff is a major enemy of Macbeth and will end up killing him. The contrasting way that the apparition speaks to Macbeth will show the audience that it is Macbeth who is insulting or degrading himself, as the apparition will appear to be Macbeth himself. All the original lights in front of the gauze will come on again and the behind gauze light will slowly fade as the apparition disappears.

The second apparition to appear to Macbeth is a bloody child, supposedly coming from a caesarean operation. This will be a difficult apparition to show as I think a baby is a hard member to work with and using an actual baby may be an infringement of human rights. Due to this I think that a child of maybe four or five years will be used. Once again, all the relevant lights will dim and this time a beam of light, hinted with red shall shine on the child who again rises behind the gauze. The high voice of this apparition (a pre-pubescent child) will contrast sharply with the mighty voice of Macbeth and again should be pre recorded, as a really young child cannot be expected to perform in front of that large a crowd. The child should be with his mother on stage and be cuddling the woman.

This is so Macbeth has reason to think that no one is of woman born and he is indestructible. The audience should notice that the power of the Witches has caused Macbeth to focus all of his attention on a small child. After Macbeth has heard that none of woman born¯¿½ can harm him Macbeth becomes happy as he thinks that he can defeat Macduff and is indestructible. He will turn away from the apparition towards the audience and smile and nod to himself. When the light comes on after this apparition as left the beam on Macbeth will be noticeably dimmer than before, showing that Macbeth has taken another step to eternity in the presence of Beelzebub. Macbeth has decided that Macduff must go, but he hasnt decided on a time yet. The change in strength of the beam should be subtle but noticeable so that the audience will clearly notice, so only an alert member of the audience will realise the rapid fall of Macbeth.

Finally the third apparition appears, for this I would have a projector behind the gauze, which has an animation of the apparition on. I shall have the apparition portrayed as a forest moving over the hills towards Macbeth¯¿½s castle. Amidst the moving forest an army should be able to be just seen, barley noticeable unless you are an alert member of the audience, this is to show that the apparition is actually looking into the future and this is exactly what will happen, and those with previous knowledge of the play should realize this. The apparition will then be spoken, also in a pre recorded voice, but this one should be spoken in Macbeth¯¿½s voice, This will indicate to the audience that it is Macbeth himself who is causing all the corruption and unrest.

Macbeth is very happy at what the apparitions have said and fails to notice the many hidden symbols that they bear such as the identical clothing worn by the first apparition and the voice of Macbeth in the third.

Only one thing troubles Macbeth now, the idea that it may be the offspring of Banquo who rule the kingdom instead of his own. Macbeth therefore orders the Witches to tell him about this. After he has made the question ¦shall Banquos issue ever reign in this kingdom? There will be a pause of about 3 seconds; long enough to alert the audience that something important is about to happen. Thee Witches will turn away from Macbeth and look to the floor before saying Seek to know no more; they know that the images that they must now show Macbeth will not please him, but he has demanded it and although the Witches have infinitely more power than Macbeth they will show him this apparition as they have shown him the apparitions that have pleased him.

All of the lights will go out so that the stage is completely dark. Again the projector will be used for this apparition and a bright light will shine on the screen to make the vision stand out. Within the first few seconds of this apparition showing, a King, slightly resembling Banquo will appear on the screen. Then after about ten seconds a sound effect, similar to a camera click effect, will sound and the King will disappear and another King, resembling Banquo a little less will appear, then again the sound effect will sound and another King, resembling less of Banquo but similar to the previous King, to show the audience that they are indeed from the same family, will appear.

And so on and so forth until all eight Kings have appeared on the projector. Then a loud boom of thunder in surround sound will echo around the theatre in addition to a lightning flash filling up the stage. The screen will then have all eight kings showing and then a computer character of Banquo will appear in the center of the screen, covering the Kings behind him to enhance the effect of him being there, will start laughing and mocking Macbeth, this will go on for about half a minute then the apparition will disappear.

The Witches will now begin to smile and look pleased with their work. They will begin to mock Macbeth with the song they will sing and the first Witch praises Macbeth as a great king¯¿½ in a voice of mock worship. Once more the audience will realise that Macbeth has no power over the Witches and how they are the real evil in the play. The Witches dance and vanish (the lights will go out again). When the lights come back on they will be noticeably brighter due to the departure of the Witches, showing that the Witches were really evil.

Macbeth will be shouting out his lines while on his knees about how the Witches have abandoned him when Lennox enters accompanied by a messenger who will be muddy and look tired. In his hand he will be carrying a large leather bag. This man will be the messenger that Lennox will inform Macbeth about. Macbeth will still have his dim spotlight on him but Lennox will have a bright light, his uniform/armor will be clean and shining, showing that Lennox has not fallen from grace as Macbeth has.

Lennox will inform Macbeth of Macduff who has fled to England to bring back an army. This will lead to Macbeth¯¿½s final soliloquy of this scene. During this Macbeth will speak of his plans to murder Macduff. He will pace around the front stage whilst Lennox walks towards the back of the stage to talk with the messenger so it doesnt look like that Lennox can actually hear what Macbeth is saying. Macbeth should look flustered and angry, he should look as if he has lost all sanity and means of rational thought, showing the audience that in this one scene Macbeth has gone from a murderer to a madman and is still plummeting to worse things. The spotlight over Macbeth will start to fade until it eventually is put out permanently. This is to show there is no way back for Macbeth now.

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