Something Wicked This Way Comes: “Macbeth” Hits Stages from Coast to Coast

Could Macbeth be to Halloween what A Christmas Carol is to Noël? Based on the number performances starring the Thane of Cawdor this month, all signs seem to point to yes. Among the various renditions, Shakespeare’s tragedy exploring the darkest and bloodiest elements of human nature appears in wildly different venues on either ends of the country this month.




Starting October 20 and running through November 3, the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles opens its “immersive” production of Macbeth. Directed by former Royal Shakespeare Company member Kenn Sabberton, The Tragedie of Macbeth is set in a haunted house where audience members walk through the play as it is happening. The show starts in the Shakespeare Center’s parking garage, which stands in for the mysterious witches’ heath, then winds its way through the castle. Pared down to seventy minutes with nine actors playing everyone from Macbeth to Banquo, the intimate nature of the show limits fifty spectators per performance.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, catch a glimpse of Macbeth through the fog art installation currently set up at Harvard University’s Arnold Arboretum. Fog x Macbeth takes place on Sunday, October 21 at 5 pm, and like the Shakespeare Center’s adaptation, it is an abridged portrayal. This show is part of a larger exhibition by Japanese fog artist Fujito Nakaya, whose five fog sculptures situated in and around Boston are helping celebrate the twenty-year anniversary of the Emerald Lake Conservancy, a group dedicated to conserving the area’s century-old park system created by Frederick Law Olmstead.




The Actor’s Shakespeare Project  (ASP), a Boston-based theater company whose mission is to share Shakespeare’s immortal words with contemporary audiences, uses an adaptation by playwright Migdalia Cruz, whose full play is on stage now through November 11 at Brookline’s United Parish.


Meanwhile, with jets of gray mist pulsing at various intervals as the backdrop, Sunday’s free presentation will take place on the lawn next to the arboretum’s Hunnewell building. Audience members are welcome to bring lawn chairs or blankets and are encouraged to dress for the elements.


And finally, Macbeth was recently staged at a place where both actors and audience members deeply related to the characters they portrayed: Twin Rivers Correctional Institution in Umatilla, Oregon. One of the actors portraying Macbeth is currently serving life in prison for murder. (Reporter Noelle Crombie at the Oregonian goes into great detail about the performance and the organizations that bring acting programs to inmates.)


“I have done the deed” takes on new meaning, doesn’t it?


Photo credit: Nile Scott Shots

Hamlet: Globe to Globe

In 2012, Globe Theatre’s artistic director Dominic Dromgoole and his team came up with “a daft idea:” celebrate the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth by taking Hamlet on a two-year tour of 197 countries. In Hamlet: Globe to Globe, Dromgoole explains how the concept took shape, the logistics that were involved, and how a centuries-old play resonated with audiences around the world. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog.


Saturday, April 23rd marked the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and institutions around the world celebrated the day with myriad festivities. Why not share the Bard’s poetic and dramatic gifts with your children? Prolific children’s book author Leon Garfield’s (1921-1996) adaptations of twenty-one plays are the place to start. The material in this volume is the first republished combination of two works: Shakespeare Stories, published in 1985  and Shakespeare Stories II, which didn’t appear until 1994. Both were published
by Victor Gollancz Limited.

Garfield’s ability to distill Shakespeare’s gift for intrigue, humor, wit, and adventure make this book a wonderful introduction to the Bard’s work. Neither simplistic nor boring, the stories capture the essence of Shakespeare with clear, accessible, and modern English. Accompanied by Michael Foreman’s original illustrations, Shakespeare Stories is a graceful, appealing introduction to Shakespeare. Though marketed to children reading at a fairly advanced level, adults intimidated by Elizabethan English but interested in discovering Shakespeare’s virtuosity for themselves might consider giving this book a chance–it’s far more entertaining than CliffsNotes.

Leon Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories, illustrated by Michael Foreman; The New York Review of Children’s Books, $24.95, 576 pages, ages 12 and up.