2010 Mar 15 Power Play – Win Tickets to TNT’s Macbeth!
“The Scottish play!” Three Brits corrected me immediately with one voice at an editorial meeting after I dared to speak the name of the upcoming Shakespearean show, Macbeth. As one of William Shakespeare’s darkest and bloodiest plays, Macbeth is a terrifying tragedy swirling with black magic, tortured ghosts, corrupt passion, betrayal and murder. Theatrical superstition says this play is cursed and that saying the name out loud will cause disaster. Supposedly, Shakespeare used a few spells from actual witches as dialogue for the play – which caused great offense and led them to curse the drama.
Britain’s TNT Theatre has produced one of the most acclaimed versions of this theatrical masterpiece, which is coming to Beijing this weekend (March 19 and 20) – see the end of this post for our ticket giveaway. I recently spoke to TNT’s artistic director Paul Stebbings about his production.
There’s a superstition about Macbeth in theatrical circles. Do you and your company believe the play is bad luck?
The play is the most terrifying ever written, so when you work on it you have to show the play respect. It’s like holding a charged piece of uranium in your hand!
Do we believe it is supernatural and bad luck to perform?
No, I don’t think we see it as bad luck because it has been a lucky play for us. In fact it is TNT's most performed Shakespeare, with almost 1000 performances given so far.
Does TNT have any other theatrical superstitions?
We do not use the name of the play – we call it MCB or Maccers. And we don’t quote it outside of rehearsals.
Do you think Macbeth is Shakespeare’s darkest and bloodiest play? What is your interpretation of the play?
I think it is Shakespeare's greatest exploration of evil – of the terrible link between power and evil. It’s great entertainment and at the same time it explores not just evil (like some cheap Hollywood film) but the destructive power of evil – Macbeth and his wife are sent mad by their cruelty. It’s a very moral play.
Do you think Lady Macbeth is greedier than Macbeth?
The play is a wonderful exploration of how two people corrupt each other. They are both to blame. Shakespeare explores the idea that we use excuses for our evil – it is always someone else's fault. But it's not. Evil is our own responsibility.
When did you first read Macbeth?
Macbeth – oops the Scottish play – was the first Shakespeare I ever read, so I have a special affection for it. It is often the first Shakespeare that students read because it is so easy to understand and such a great story. I never tire of the play even though I have been working on it for almost ten years.
How do different audiences respond in different countries?
I think some countries have a stronger folk memory of black magic and witchcraft than others, but overall the play works in any country or culture. We will perform the same production in China as we do in Britain.
Is there any particular scene that stands out for you?
I think the scene where Macbeth is trying to have a celebratory feast for his coronation and Banquoe's ghost appears. This wrecks not only the feast but destroys any satisfaction he and his wife dreamed of when starting their murders. It is a brilliant scene where the social, moral, and personal all interlink – genius writing and gripping theatre.
Macbeth, presented by Britain’s TNT Theatre, 7.30pm, Friday March 19 & Saturday March 20, Nine Theatre, Chaoyang Cultural Centre. English dialogue with Chinese subtitles. RMB 380-60. Tickets available here.
We have THREE PAIRS of tickets to give away to TNT’s production of the Scottish play this Friday, March 19. To win, be one of the first three readers to tell us which famous filmmaker directed the 1948 film version of Macbeth?
Send answers to: email@example.com