Directing Macbeth act 4 scene 1

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

The scene I have chosen to direct is Act Four Scene One. I have selected this scene because I feel it has significance to the rest of the play. The events leading up to this are; Macbeth kills king Duncan of Scotland, Macbeth hires three murderers to kill Banquo and his son Fleance, Fleance gets away and Macbeth is haunted by Banquo’s ghost at a banquet. Three witches meet on a desolate heath and predict that Macbeth will become the Thane of Cawdor and then king, much to Macbeth’s amazement these predictions come true.

(Thane of Cawdor in Act One Scene Three) “Why do you dress me in borrowed robes?” This makes one assume that the witches can predict the future.

William Shakespeare wrote the play in 1601 when England and Scotland were under ruler ship of king James I of England and VI of Scotland. James I was very interested in witches and witchcraft, during his reign many women were wrongfully burnt at the stake and hung because they were believed to be witches.

The people of this time were very superstitious and believed in witchcraft so the effect this play had on the audience would have been more powerful then when it was written, as opposed to now when the belief in witchcraft just isn’t as strong. So therefore the effect would not be the same on a modern day audience.

The witches do not play a main character role in Macbeth (they don’t appear on stage much) but when they do appear the have dramatic effects on the other characters and the audience e.g. they don’t develop as characters but they are the key to the development of the plot (lady Macbeth has trouble sleeping) “Sleep shall neither night nor day.” The first witch says this in Act One Scene Three. Also they play a large part in Macbeth’s decline. They can be seen as responsible for this because their predictions come true “All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter,” and they show him the apparitions. The witches represent evil in the play, particularly to the 17th century audience.

In the 1600’s very little scenery and props were used in Shakespeare’s plays so the audience had to rely on Shakespeare’s language in order to understand events of the play. Performances were given in daylight so the audience relied entirely on the language of the play to create atmosphere. Thunder. Enter the three witches. Stage directions were often used.

For my production the stage will be bare like the original productions in Shakespeare’s time. I would set it up like this because without elaborate backdrops the audience can pay more attention to the actors and Shakespeare’s language. This is important because in those days not everybody got an education only the well off people did so most people wouldn’t understand much of the play. But Shakespeare made sure there was a bit in it that everyone could understand. So therefore his language is the most important part of the play. Shakespeare’s language in this scene is extremely descriptive and very violent. This helps the audience understand how evil this deed actually is.

Enter the three witches

On entrance the stage will be completely blacked out (no lights). The audience will be able to hear chanting but not see anything on the stage just yet. Then we will focus on centre stage where green lights will flash on and shine down on the cauldron to allow the witches’ faces to be seen.

The witches’ costumes will be old ragged black cloaks all torn and scraggy.

Their hair will be a tatty, mattered and a scraggly grey mess all flopped in their faces.

They will move slowly encircling the cauldron chanting the spell whilst moving.

Each of the three witches has a bloodstained bag from which they dramatically pull out each item of the spell to show the audience before dropping it into the cauldron. ” Finger of birth-strangled babe.” This should shock the audience because, the visual effect combined with the scary movement and items described in the spell “In the poison’d entrails throw.” The blackout at the beginning will create anticipation and mystery with which the witches are associated.

Enter Hecat leader of the three witches

“Something wicked this way comes.” The three witches and Hecat are referring to Macbeth, so therefore Macbeth should look wicked to represent the evil he has made since his last meeting with the three witches on the heath. Since his last meeting with them he has killed king Duncan, killed his best friend Banquo and has been haunted by him at a banquet. So physically Macbeth will look tired and on edge.

Enter Macbeth

Macbeth will casually stroll onto the stage saying his lines as he enters. All lights will still be on the three witches around the cauldron until they say “A deed without a name.” Then the light will be on the full stage.

Macbeth is no longer frightened of the three witches because he believes they are helping him to reach his target / goal / aim in life.

Macbeth will be wearing his usual garments, nothing special or different, this is because he feels comfortable around the three witches now. This is because, like I have just said, Macbeth feels the three witches are helping him.

Enter the three apparitions

For my performance I would stage the three apparitions very dramatically using light to form shadows and silhouettes. This would make them more mysterious and ghostly. Macbeth will shout at the apparitions, his aggression will show the audience how desperate he is. The third apparition boosts his confidence even more because he believes that this is impossible and will never happen, but in actual fact it does happen. “Who can impress the forest, bid the tree unfix his earth-bound roots?” This apparition must be the most dramatic so the audience remember in the final act when this apparition comes true.

I believe that the three witches have played a large part in helping with the destruction of Macbeth. However I also think that even if Macbeth had never met the three witches upon that desolate heath he would have still come to the same fate. He still would have been killed but not as many innocent people would have been caught in the line of fire / his path of destruction.

Macbeth sees the predictions and apparitions as things he should and can stop as opposed to things he cannot stop. Macbeth believes he is invincible, but as we know he could not be more wrong. “I bear a charmed life, which must not yield to one of woman born.”

As a result of this many people were killed some innocent people and some not so innocent people. Macbeth loses everything including his wife, his best friend Banquo, his mind and eventually his head.

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