Comparison of Macbeth Production

Comparison of Macbeth Production

Jonathan Lopez

James Armstrong

Theater History II

The play Macbeth was written by one of the best playwrights in all of history and is a tale that has survived the gauntlet of time through constant production and revisions. But does that mean that the meaning behind the play has also survived? The Classic Stage Company answers that question with its modern take of Macbeth. In today’s modern society almost, everything is vastly different in many ways, especially in social standards, and this includes the way we do produce plays. This then leads to outcomes of how the play seems with it either leaving less or more of an impact on audiences and society. With all the changes that occurred over time, how does the modern production of Macbeth by the Classic Stage Company stand against its past?

The play Macbeth was first performed in the Hampton Court Palace. One could say that it would’ve been performed differently in modern times than when first produced. This could be seen through the stage choice as it differs between the two times in the past in its original production, it was done in an empty room with no real boundaries set in place as it was merely entertainment for the King. But in modern times like the one done by the Classic Theater Company, the play Macbeth was done with a thrust stage where the actors and audience share the same space but have clear boundaries to make sure the illusion of being a watcher of a story was kept intact. This difference between the two types of stages doesn’t impact the overall flow of the story which is great as the social setting of the past and now doesn’t match giving this freedom of choice to the modern producers. Overall the type of stage that Macbeth would’ve been performed on wouldn’t have swayed the meaning and impact in modern society as each different stage type can be used with its own individual advantages and disadvantages.

The choice of costumes by the Classic Stage Company compared to what would’ve been worn in the past were also really different which did impact the feeling of how the story was being told in a negative way. The choice of having a dark aesthetic by the classic stage company hurt the flow of the play as having all the cast members look similar made it challenging to identify who was what character which I only knew at the end with everyone shouting names at each other at the climax. But making the choice of dark did really make the tragic moments in the play have more impact as it was adding on the emotion making you think each time a character did something bad, their looks would reflect it to an extent. This contrast to the original production as the costumes helped identify who was what character as back then when there were Kings and Dukes, the nobility would donate their old royal clothing to these theater companies which the actors would use when they played any character of Nobility. This choice in the original production not only helped with identification but also gave off a convincing feeling as people dressed like actual kings and the audience felt like they were kings with the old and flashy clothing.

The actors who wore the costumes were more critical to the feeling of the play with the costumes serving as a support for them. Even though the idea of actors was the same in getting the plot of the playout there, who portrayed the idea differ immensely. In the past, with the social standards of that time, the actors would’ve been exclusively English males ranging from children to elderly and who were Protestants. This is many restrictions were placed on theater companies in the past which one stated that women could NOT perform on stage. However, in modern society with different social standards of the past, this was not the case with the Classic Stage Company’s production as the actors were both male AND female and were of mixed races with some being light-skinned and some were dark-skinned with the only similarity between both times being that the actors ages varied from young adults to the elderly. While this is not what would’ve been this produced in the past, I feel it embodies what Macbeth represents better because when the characters are played by an actor of the same gender, it has a bigger impact on the audience as it makes them feel as if they were there suffering with the actors.

The commentary of the play Macbeth has been constant throughout its lifetime but what changes is its application in society. When originally made, it was commenting on the Monarchy system and how it was ineffective with the King and other elites doing reckless actions harming the stability of England. This play really had an impact in the past where many Monarchies were present and the elite members in these Monarchies were all acting foolish which hurts the country they live and its working-class people. This play was fueling the coming rebellion as it showcased how the ineffective the nobility was with some elements of exaggeration mixed into it and it worked, cementing Macbeth as a political statement. In modern times, this is the polar opposite where there are no more Kings and other members of nobility who can do whatever they want without consequence as they will now face the consequences by either the law or by the people. But with the recent events happening in the American government with scandals and corruption, the production of Macbethcould have a resurgence in popularity and a new version done by the Classic Stage Company where it reflects the times we are in and pokes fun of those in power.


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