Saturday, March 13, 2010


Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, and this is our longest episode.

We were happy to talk about the Astor Place Riots, you can see more stuff about it on Wikipedia Here.

It would be easy for us to provide the outlines that we use to produce these podcasts, would you guys be interested in seeing those? Please leave us a comment if you'd like to see them.

Slings & Arrows: The Complete Collection I can't recommend this show enough: it encompasses the "feeling" and "meaning" of Shakespeare more than any program I've ever seen.
Throne of Blood - Criterion Collection Akira Kurosawa's Japanese version of Macbeth
Scotland, PA: A humorous modern retelling of Macbeth in a modern restaurant setting. Includes Christopher Walken!
Wyrd Sisters The amazing Terry Pratchett takes on Macbeth in a Fantasy setting. Fantastic, like all Terry Pratchett.
Enter Three Witches This is an OK book. I'd only recommend it if you wanted a young teen or tween to read a more PG 13 version of Macbeth.

Macbeth: The DVD Edition (Folger Shakespeare Library) A fan suggested this one. I haven't seen it, but it sounds good!

Someone asked for the outline of the podcast, so here it is: (Beware: it's a little long)


   1. Introduction
         1. Bardcast
         2. Names
         3. MacBeth
   2. play classification/sources
         1. Tragedy, but about History (Again, loosely)
               1. What makes histories and tragedies different?
                     1. Tragedies are about personal loss
                     2. Histories are about public defeat/victory.
                     3. compare Richard II, he's murdered in his cell, but he retains his dignity
         2. Holinshead again
   3. Publications
         1. Actual date released is unknown and unknowable
               1. Almost certainly written following JI, so 1603
               2. so many references to Equivocation, could follow the Gunpowder plot of 1606
               3. There are allusions to it in 1607 (probably), so it has to be in that area.
         2. Only in the Folio
         3. Troublesome
               1. Everyone assumes the Hecate musical numbers are inserted
               2. People also assume the Play has been cut for unknown reasons
   4. What's it About?
   5. Setting
         1. Scotland
         2. Nights
               1. The old theaters were sunlit
               2. It could be this was written for blackfriars (or a similar theater), which they acquired in 1608
   6. characters
         1. MacBeth
               1. Lady MacBeth
               2. Banquo
                     1. Fleance
               3. Doctor/Nurse
         2. Duncan
               1. Malcolm
               2. Donalbain
         3. MacDuff
               1. Lady MacDuff
               2. MacDuff's Son
         4. Witches
               1. Optionally, Hecate
               2. Assorted Prophecizers
         5. Background Guys
               1. Lennox, Ross, Menteith, Angus, Caithness -Lords
               2. A porter, a gentlewoman, 3 murderers and a messenger
               3. Siward and Siward's son, Englishmen
   7. plot
         1. 60 second summary
         2. Normally quote good passages, too many to repeat in this one.  We'll still give it a try
         3. Act I
               1. Scene I
                     1. Witches hang about
                           1. Paddock and Greymalkin are names for animals, (familiars)
               2. Scene II
                     1. Man reports on MacBeth's butt-kicking
               3. Scene III
                     1. Witch describes how she ruined a sailor's sailing out of spite.
                     2. MacBeth and Banquo arrive.
                     3. First prophecies, Cawdor today, King, hereafter
                     4. Banquo prophecies: father of kings, but not king.
                     5. Macbeth is informed he is now Cawdor, already begins to contemplate murder
               4. Scene IV
                     1. Cawdor has been executed: "died" speech
                     2. Duncan is overjoyed to meet with Mac and Banq. Good courtly speech
                     3. MacBeth hurries ahead to meet lady maccers
               5. Scene 5
                     1. Lady M reads letter. Plans to stiffen his resolve. Hears that king is coming. Resolves to remove all virtue from self to steel self for murder.
                     2. MacBeth arrives, lady M tells him to look like the flower, but be the serpent
               6. Scene 6
                     1. Duncan and banq arrive at the castle, are greeted by Lady M.
               7. Scene 7
                     1. Macbeth is conflicted about the murder.
                           1. It would commend poison to his own lips
                           2. He's host, cousin, subject, and (metaphorically) son of duncan
                           3. Duncan is so virtuous it'd be a terrible sin
                           4. He has only ambition as justification
                     2. He decides to not go through with it, Lady M berates him.
                     3. Mentions child here
                     4. she lays out the plan of assassination
                           1. drug guards
                           2. kill king
                           3. blame guards
         4. Act II
               1. Scene I
                     1. MacBeth meets Banquo. Plans to speak later, dismisses everyone
                     2. Dagger speech.
               2. Scene II
                     1. The Murder Scene (Dun Dun Dun!)
                     2. Lady M, "all's well so far, Maccers is killing him now"
                     3. "had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had don't"
                     4. MacBeth returns, he did it, but he thought someone heard him.
                     5. The guards called "murder" (a general cry), but prayed and returned to sleep. Mac couldn't say "amen", pretty obvious symbol there.
                     6. MacBeth is undone by the deed, Lady is still bold, finishes the job (daggers, blood, etc.)
                     7. knocking
               3. Scene III
                     1. Porter scene
                     2. Comic relief, but Knocking is the same knocking that bothers macbeth
                     3. Macduff and Lennox are allowed in, are greeted by MacBeth
                     4. they allude to bad omens
                     5. Macduff returns to reveal the king has been murdered
                     6. more people arrive, MacBeth reveals he killed the guards
                     7. Malcolm and Donalbain decide to run before the killer gets them too
               4. Scene IV
                     1. more bad omen talk
                     2. the princes have fled, and the suspicion of guilt falls upon them
                     3. Macbeth has already left to be crowned king
         5. Act III
               1. Scene I
                     1. Banquo suspects MacBeth
                     2. tells MacBeth that he's leaving, but will return soon
                     3. Macbeth instructs the murderers to get banquo, and especially his son
               2. Scene II
                     1. m and lady m review the situache
               3. Scene III
                     1. Murderers live up to their name, but lose Fleance
               4. Scene IV
                     1. The Dinner Scene
                     2. Macbeth will sit with the others, while LM sits on the throne
                     3. murderer reports failure
                     4. Banquo's ghost
                     5. everyone leaves,
                     6. Maccers resolves to meet the witches again,
                     7. here's his true resolution to be evil
               5. Scene V
                     1. Witches, probably an addition
               6. Scene 6
                     1. Lennox talks to a noble to win him over against Maccers.
         6. Act IV
               1. Scene I
                     1. Witches again
                     2. Another interruption from Thomas Middleton
                     3. two series of prophecies
                           1. Beware Macduff, one of woman born, and Birnam Wood to dunsinane
                           2. The kings, sons of banquo go to mary/james
                     4. Lennox arrives, Maccers resolves to ambush Macduff's family
               2. Scene II
                     1. MacDuff's son has a good joke
                     2. Murderers kill some macduffs
               3. Scene III
                     1. England, Malcolm and Macduff.
                     2. Malcolm reveals that he would be a far worse king than macbeth until macduff tells him that's a bad idea
                     3. Ross arrives and tells macduff his family is 1. Fine and 2. slaughtered
                     4. They resolve to move on scotland immediately.
         7. Act V
               1. Scene I
                     1. sleepwalking scene
                     2. a little too good a scene for performers
               2. Scene II
                     1. Lennox and other rebels summarize the situation
                     2. gives some insight into Macbeth's mental state
               3. Scene III
                     1. Macbeth prepares for war
                     2. from this moment on, the play must remain active.
                     3. macbeth puts on his armor, and is eager to fight, and have it all end
                     4. Doctor says Lady M's problems are internal, Maccers isn't happy w/ that
               4. Scene IV
                     1. Macduff and Co decide to "hew down a bough" to hide army's numbers
               5. Scene V
                     1. Macbeth is committed to his path of death and no regret
                     2. Lady M has reversed, has killed herself
                     3. Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
                     4. orders his troops to attack
               6. Scene VI (Scene VI VII and VIII can be played as one scene)
                     1. rebels drop boughs and ready to fight
               7. Scene VII
                     1. Macbeth kills siward
                     2. Macduff is looking for Macbeth
               8. Scene VIII
                     1. Macbeth and Macduff showdown
                     2. Macduff was from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd
                     3. Macbeth refuses to fight until Macduff says they'll put him on display like an animal
                     4. Macbeth's final stand
                     5. nobles arrive, Macduff arrives with maccers' head,
                     6. Malcolm gives a little speech
   8. themes
         1. divinity of kings, James I was a fan of this
         2. Scotland for James I too
         3. good conversation in Slings and Arrows
               1. "It teaches us about evil". "No, it shows us evil, and teaches us nothing"
         4. unnaturality of the murder
         5. Equivocation, (half-truths of witches, etc.)
   9. evaluation
         1. see next section
  10. performances/interpretations
         1. Stage History
               1. Been popular since the beginning, although it's been "interpreted". Various scenes have been cut and modified, including singing and dancing
               2. all the famous Shakespeare actors have done it
                     1. Garrick, Kean, Orson Welles, laurence Olivier, that other guy that does all the movies, etc.
               3. Sarah Siddons -
                     1. Lady MacBeth
                     2. Final performance, "the audience refused to allow the play to continue after the end of the sleepwalking scene. Eventually, after tumultuous applause from the pit, the curtain reopened and Siddons was discovered sitting in her own clothes and character — whereupon she made an emotional farewell speech to the audience lasting eight minutes."
         2. Throne of Blood
         3. Scotland, PA
         4. Slings and Arrows
         5. Wyrd Sisters
         6. Enter Three Witches
         7. Macbeth, Part II
  11. discussion (Our personal interpretations)
         1. Carson
         2. Jeff
  12. The Scottish Play
         1. Macbeth is a cursed play, and if you say the name of the play or character in a theatre and not during the performance, bad things happen.  Because Shakespeare used real witches spells.  Really.
  13. news
         1. Chop Bard
         2. Anonymous
               1. just one specific thing we've seen so far: if shakey was illiterate, there's no way he could be an actor.
         3. would people like to see our scripts?
         4. My Own Private Idaho sucks
  14. signing off
         1. iTunes,


  1. I would be interested in seeing the outlines that you use.

  2. Can you guys do a podcast on "Double Falsehood"/"Cardenio" since it's in the news?

  3. We'll certainly mention it, but I have every intention of addressing it with a condescending, dismissive air. I'd bet any amount of money that Theobald wrote it without any "original copy".

  4. I'm just upset that Arden and these news agencies didn't consult with us first, I mean, we explicitly asked in the podcast for any copies of Cardenio to be sent to us right away, and they didn't even inform us ahead of time. They can't get away with this just by renaming it. I fully intend to imagine myself writing a letter of protest.

  5. just listened to the macbeth episode and wanted to drop by the blog to let you guys know that i really enjoyed it. your enthusiasm for the play was wonderfully evident in the podcast and has piqued my curiosity about seeing a live performance of macbeth. thanks for all of the work you put into bardcast. it's very much appreciated.

  6. Great show!
    Just stumbled into your podcast over the weekend, and am thrilled to have have done so. I am taking a Shakespeare class this semester at Cal State Fullerton, and found your podcast entertainingly educational. We are just finishing up Macbeth and our going to discuss Romeo & Juliet as our final play for the semester. I enjoyed your Macbeth podcast, and the episode on Shakespeare's Sources. Just downloaded the rest of the episodes and look forward to listening to them when I get the chance.

    You two have a lot of heart and make a great dynamic duo.

    I share in your happiness and am inspired to hear you do what you love to do. Your blog is also helpful and informative. Thanks for laying it down!

    Good luck to both of you on your journey into the Land of Shakespeare. You two both have a lot to offer the next generation of Young Shakespeareans.


  7. Hello Gentlemen-
    I have just recently discovered your podcasts and I listen to them at work in iTunes. I am a graphic designer and I enjoy listening to spoken word while I work.
    I wanted to give you guys a heads up on a great production of Macbeth is you are not already familiar - It was co-directed by Teller (of Penn & Teller) and is available through Amazon as a book/DVD of the production. Having a magician and stage performer like Teller is a real benefit for this play - daggers appear and hover in mid air, witches dissolve into thin air and ghosts appear and disappear. Oh and blood... gallons and gallons of blood. (
    My own profile for your demographic: I am male, 38, white, and memorize shakespeare monologues as a fun brain exercise as I walk home from work. I'm enjoying learning about the plays that I am not familiar with like Henry IV 1&2 and Richard II. I look forward to Henry V (which is my personal favorite). Keep up the good work.

  8. Thanks for the link to the Teller Macbeth, I'll put it up on the main page, and I have every intent of checking it out.

  9. Hey guys! Great podcast. I just found you a few weeks ago as I'm just learning about the Bard. Being engaged to a very talented Shakespearean actress it has become a minor passion of mine to learn more and more.

    One of the first of Shakespeare's plays that I got to see live was the Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company's production of Macbeth. They chose to do the costuming and the music as a punk rock Macbeth complete with 80's punk music played accoustically and black leather jacketed Maccers. It was really cool.

    Macbeth is one of my favorites and would definitely be something I'd like to try my hand at in the future. You guys did a great job with it and I can't wait to get through the backlog.

    If you're at all interested, The Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company is located in Grand Haven, Michigan and are an original practice company and are really remarkable. You can find them on Facebook!/group.php?gid=8493040196&ref=ts
    and at their website.

    Keep up the great job.


  10. Hey guys! Sorry, I know this is an older episode but I just hit on your podcast by accident this week and so far I'm digging it!

    You talked about the Hecate scene possibly being a late addition; I'm curious what's the evidence supporting that other than the randomness of the scene? There are quite a few lines in the play that refer to magic and the unaturalness of it all, the most obvious point being that there are actually witches and ghosts called for onstage. On top of that, Macbeth himself mentions Hecate 3 times before she finally shows up. It doesn't seem random at all to me, but then again that's why I'm asking you guys the question.

    Thanks for the podcast, keep up the good work!


  11. OK, I did a little googling, and apparently it's not definitive that Hecate is foreign.

    There are two issues: First, the songs they sing are definitely from Thomas Middleton, since they are also in Middleton's play.

    Second, the meter and stuff are different in the Hecate relevant lines. That isn't really evidence, since it could be that Shakespeare was changing the meter to change the mood for the witches' scene.

  12. Thanks for a great podcast. After listening to this podcast and the one by the American Shakespeare Company, I went over to Netflix and watched the 2010 Patrick Stewart film. Google "Macbeth 2010". Very coMpelling and powerful performances. Probably the best Macbeth I've seen to date.

  13. Hey guys,

    Just discovered your podcast and loving it :). Just finished the Macbeth episode, brilliant play - always feels like the classic horror storyline to me with all the right ingredients.

    I'm off on a 2 week Shakespeare course at Cambridge Uni in England very soon so I'm swatting up on everything Bard-related, your podcast definitely helps, thanks!

    One thing you guys mentioned - the part where Malcolm says he'd make a terrible King to Macduff, books I've read suggest this speech is all a rouse to test out the loyalty and trustworthiness of Macduff and that he doesn't actually think he will be awful. Makes a lot more sense read that way I think.

    Thanks again to both of you, looking forward to making my way through all the episodes.

    All the best,

    Jenni Summers
    Maidenhead, Berkshire, England

  14. Just found you guys not so long ago and have just listened to this podcast. I was interested in your discussion of interpretations and I thought I'd recommend an Australian version. If you can find it, there is a great version of Macbeth starring Sam Worthington (Man on a Ledge, Avatar). It is set in Gangland Melbourne and is a very modern (also violent and sexual) version. Worth a look!

  15. Just found you guys not so long ago and have just listened to this podcast. I was interested in your discussion of interpretations and I thought I'd recommend an Australian version. If you can find it, there is a great version of Macbeth starring Sam Worthington (Man on a Ledge, Avatar). It is set in Gangland Melbourne and is a very modern (also violent and sexual) version. Worth a look!

  16. Just found you guys not so long ago and have just listened to this podcast. I was interested in your discussion of interpretations and I thought I'd recommend an Australian version. If you can find it, there is a great version of Macbeth starring Sam Worthington (Man on a Ledge, Avatar). It is set in Gangland Melbourne and is a very modern (also violent and sexual) version. Worth a look!

  17. Just discovered your podcast not long ago and have just listened to your episode on Macbeth.
    I was interested by your discussion about adaptations and would like to recommend an Australian version. If you are able to get it in the States, have a look at Macbeth starring Sam Worthington (Avatar, Man on a Ledge) in the title role.
    This adaptation is set in modern day gangland Melbourne. It is violent and highly sexualised (the witches are trampy schoolgirls who have an orgy with Macbeth) and there is lots of drug use but it is well worth a look.
    Looking forward to the next episode!