Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I am reading all of Shakespeare's plays in the course of a year; this is the second.

I still think of the character Macbeth as a proto-existentialist (in the emphasis on action, the rejection of morality, the weariness with life, the mockery of existence's absurdity), but that doesn't mean I think of Macbeth as a proto-existentialist play (in the same way that King Lear may be). Nature itself balks at Macbeth's crime, and aside from the bloodshed, the drama of the play obviously comes from the psychological conflict and development of the Macbeths.

I imagine the character Macbeth as a terribly difficult stage role to play: the success of a staging of Macbeth must rely heavily on the lead actor's ability and understanding. I thought season two of Slings & Arrows gave this a solid treatment.


  1. I always thought the difficulty in playing MacBeth is playing the bad guy, carrying the play and rising to the level of Lady MacBeth. To often he comes off as her flunky, a victim of her evil drive for power. The theme of fate and destiny can add to this too, I think.

    You don't often see him played as the charming, brilliant manipulator that Richard is, but when an actor can bring that charisma, intelligence and own his own murderous ambition that equals Lady MacBeth. Now you're cookin'.

  2. That's the point, though, right? Iago, or Richard III are evil, evil when we meet them, evil throughout.

    But Macbeth becomes evil - we watch him do it. In some ways, he is not very good at it. His ambition and intelligence do not equal his wife's.

    Lady Macbeth is no Iago, either, come to think of it. No guilt for him.

  3. Yes, of course you're right. I've just seen to many wishy-washy MacBeths.