Compare the similarities and differences apparent in ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare, ‘Living with Lady Macbeth’ by Rob John and the Raw Shakespeare Company production in 1978 produced by Trevor Dunn.
There are several important similarities and differences between the three extracts I have studied. A major difference between these extracts is both the place and time period they are set in.
Macbeth is set in a eleventh century castle and was written in 1605 whereas ‘Living with Lady Macbeth’ is set in a modern day school and was first performed in 1988 by Cambridge University Press. Another significant difference is the audiences the extracts are written for. ‘Macbeth’ was written for Elizabethan adults whereas ‘Living with Lady Macbeth’ was written for school productions – the fringe theatre.
The social and historical contexts that lie between the extracts also differ. In my research I incorporated the role of women in the Elizabethan era. Women were expected to take an active part in childbearing and took great pride in doing so. There is no doubt that women occupied a lesser status to men in the Elizabethan society. Furthermore there were many limitations on what a women could do. One of these was that women, regardless of social position were not permitted to vote and were seen as inferior to men.
Girls were not given the same importance as boys as regards to education and girls were forbidden to go to university for further education. The role of women in the Elizabethan era is relevant to the impersonation of Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ because she is a woman, inferior to men and the social context surrounding her, therefore she seeks her rights through Macbeth. This is also significant to the role of Lily, a ‘dull and ordinary’ girl who also has no control of the social context surrounding her, but seeks power and domination through the character of Lady Macbeth.
Various themes are used through out the extracts, some of which include: power, ambition and death. However ‘Living with Lady Macbeth’ has got an additional unrealistic element whereas Macbeth is based on truth and courage, the Raw Shakespeare Company production produced by Trevor Dunn is based on enchantment and intimidation.
I performed an extract from ‘Living with Lady Macbeth’ a modern day twentieth century play, on 11/1/04, at Nonsuch High School for Girls in the drama studio. I played Caroline Pritchet, one of the five girls. The five girls work as a choral movement to both intimidate the audience and Lily. I felt that the five girls strongly reflect the witches in the Raw Shakespeare Company production produced by Trevor Dunn. The witches intimidate the audience by facial expressions and this inspired me to intimidate my audience by staring and using ghastly facial expressions to create a horrifying and shocking atmosphere. Furthermore some the forms used in the Raw Shakespeare Company production are repetition and song. These forms also inspired me and I included them in my performance. The song helps to create an eerie and enchanting atmosphere; I felt both of these elements were necessary in my performance.
In conclusion, I feel I have improved several performances due to the extensive research of the social and historical contexts behind the plays. Establishing similarities and differences between extracts means that the characterisation of certain roles can be more precise.