Macbeth Monday: A Rundown

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Seth Rabinowitz as Macduff in Macbeth. Photo by John David Pittman.

Our first show of the 40th Anniversary MainStage Season is upon us!

A new show means a new blog series. To highlight all of the cool aspects of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, we are launching a week blog series called Macbeth Mondays!

To kick things off, we thought it would be a good idea to look at the synopsis, characters and really why Producing Artistic Director Bob Hupp wanted to bring this show to The Rep stage to start our landmark season.

Synopsis 

Featuring eerie witch-like figures conspiring in riddles and chants to the backdrop of a great battle coming to an end, the beginning of Macbeth promises a story that will keep audiences on the edge of their seats.  A captain reports the details of the battle to King Duncan, praising the bravery of two generals, Macbeth and Banquo.  As Macbeth and Banquo travel home, they encounter the “Weird Sisters,” three witches who prophesy great honors in store for both men.  They tell Macbeth that he will become the Thane of Cawdor, and eventually, the king.  They tell Banquo that although he will not be king, his descendants will.  The first prophesy is fulfilled immediately when Duncan awards the title of Thane of Cawdor to Macbeth in return for his successful military service in the preceding battles.  He writes of the witches’ predictions to his wife, who begins strategizing how she will help her husband claim the crown.  When they find out the king plans to spend a night at their castle, the Macbeths decide to murder him in his sleep.

Malcolm and Donalbain, Duncan’s sons, run away in fear of their own lives, and Macbeth becomes king.  The rest of the play reveals the personal and political consequences of Macbeth’s act of regicide:  he and his wife, his former “partner in greatness,” drift apart, he plots murder after murder to cover up his initial crime, he desperately seeks out further help from the witches, he is plagued with insomnia, and he is terrified by the haunting of a ghost.  Lady Macbeth, too, suffers for her part in the murder of the king—she experiences distressing episodes of sleepwalking, and ultimately, deteriorates to the point of death.  In the end, Macbeth’s tyranny is brought to an end when he is defeated in battle by Macduff and Malcolm, who claims his right to the throne.  The play seems less interested in the eventual restoration of order than itis in the cost of corruption to the human soul.

“The original House of Cards. It’s fitting to start off a milestone season with the English language’s greatest author,” said Bob Hupp, Producing Artistic Director at Arkansas Repertory Theatre. “Shakespeare keeps us honest, and tests our mettle when we seek to tell great stories that demand to live on a stage. I’ve been reading and seeing productions of Macbeth for more than 30 years, now I’m ready to direct it for you this fall.”

Characters

  • Macbeth: a Scottish general and the thane of Glamis who is led to wicked thoughts by the prophecies of the three witches, especially after their prophecy that he will be made thane of Cawdor comes true. 
  • Lady Macbeth: Macbeth’s wife, a deeply ambitious woman who lusts for power and position. 
  • The Weird Sisters: three “black and midnight hags” who plot mischief against Macbeth using charms, spells, and prophecies.
  • Banquo: The brave, noble general whose children, according to the witches’ prophecy, will inherit the Scottish throne. 
  • Duncan: the good King of Scotland whom Macbeth, in his ambition for the crown, murders. 
  • Macduff: a Scottish nobleman hostile to Macbeth’s kingship from the start. 
  • Malcolm: the son of Duncan, whose restoration to the throne signals Scotland’s return to order following Macbeth’s reign of terror. 
  • Fleance: Banquo’s son, who survives Macbeth’s attempt to murder him.
  • Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus and Caithness: Scottish noblemen.
  • The Murderers: a group of ruffians conscripted by Macbeth to murder Banquo, Fleance (whom they fail to kill), and Macduff’s wife and children.
  • A Porter: the drunken doorman of Macbeth’s castle.
  • Lady Macduff: Macduff’s wife.
  • Macduff children: Killed by the murderers.
  • Donalbain: Duncan’s son and Malcolm’s younger brother.
  • Siward: Earl of Northumberland and uncle to Malcolm and Donalbain. Aids Malcolm in defeating Macbeth.
  • Young Siward: Son of Siward. Killed by Macbeth.

The Shakespeare drama takes The Rep stage Sept. 11-27! Book your tickets to Macbeth by calling (501) 378-0405 or visiting TheRep.org.

And learn everything else you need to before seeing the drama by checking out our study guide here!