15 May 2009

Macbeth, in Ashland, Oregon

So I went to see Macbeth at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon yesterday. The college pays for students in my ENG105 [intro to literature, focusing on drama] and in Pete Anderson's Shakespeare courses to attend a matinee. Only about 12 students from each class went, but I think those students really enjoyed it overall.

I was impressed with a lot of the play . . . the stage direction and set design was fabulous, and the costumes were great. they wore WWII-era soldiers uniforms, for the most part, and Lady Macbeth wore a deep ruby color in all scenes except her final scene, when she wore a tattered white nightgown.

Lovely stuff. I was surprised, though, by the casting. The cast was multiracial, which is fantastic, but the choice of race for some characters was a bit odd. Macbeth was played by an African-American actor, and I thought that his portrayal of Macbeth had unintentional racial implications . . . here was a big, power-hungry, strong Black man who wanted to please his greedy shrew of a wife [who was white, btw]. I thought that it just seemed awkward, and McDuff's wife was portrayed by an Asian woman, and the character was reduced to a silent china-doll stereotype through most of her appearance.

I know it wasn't a thing that was intended, but I thought it was a little sloppy.

However, the play used three little girls, kind of like a gothic version of those famous Diane Arbus twins, to represent insanity, and that was genius. And, the three visions that the witches show Macbeth at one point are represented by these little deformed people that scurry off stage after popping out of the cauldron. Very cool.

Anyhow, some of the students had never seen a major production of a stage play, so it was a great opportunity. And, Ashland's only two hours south of here, so I may be tempted to go back this summer and see something else. :) Both Don Quixote and Shakespeare's Henry VIII are being put on this summer . . . i'm thinking that if we can afford it, Steve and I might go down and spend two nights . . . see both plays, one on Sunday & one on Tuesday.


  1. i was one of the students at the play this year and even though i never thought i was really in to shakesphere i must say , THAT WAS FREAKING AWSOME ,AND THOSE STUNTS THEY DID TWORD THE END OF THE PLAY WERE REALLY COOL

  2. very cool! i was surprised with the beheading, too . . . the end was quite dramatic!

  3. There's a forthcoming collection of essays on "Macbeth" that explores the ways in which non-traditional casting can draw out some of the complicated racial dynamics you sensed in this production -- it's called "Weyward Macbeth":



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