Sunday, December 2, 2012

Macbeth: directed by Paul Kassel

Going to see Macbeth performed here in New Paltz was a very cool experience. In his Director’s Note, Paul Kassel says that “the production will bring you into a violent, intense, supernatural world, showing a man succumbing to the evil around and inside him” and it truly did. In my last post, I wrote about the Weird Sisters. It is my belief that they do not represent evil, but are simply meant to represent The Fates. In this version of Macbeth the Weird Sisters were represented as an evil that “permeates the fabric of the world” (Kassel), so I was very interested to see whether I would be convinced of this interpretation or not.
 With the suspension of my belief, this aspect of the play was very well done. I would especially like to commend the light designer, Salvatore Nicosia, for doing such an amazing job of setting the mood of each scene and the sound designer, Mark Weglinski for making me jump out of my seat. Throughout the play the shadows that played across the stage lent an eerie feeling to acts without the Weird Sisters, representing them in another form. When the Weird Sisters were on stage, albeit through the possession of other characters, their voices lent an otherworldly power to the scenes. This, combined with the darkness, clouds, and shadows created a sort of “spirit of evil” that was very believable.
              In this version of Macbeth I would say that the Weird Sisters do represent evil, but I think the play was changed in crucial ways to create this appearance through the possession of characters and the added lines the Weird Sisters speak, along with the lighting and sound effects. In Kassel’s version of Macbeth, evil in connection with the Weird Sisters saturates every scene while the version we read in the Norton gives them a more observatory role. Still, in Shakespeare’s version it seems to me that Macbeth creates his own evil, either by believing the Weird Sisters or by disrespecting them into creating this fate for him.

However, I do have to note that I think this interpretation of the Weird Sisters is very befitting for what we are going through here in the 21st century. The sneakiness of terrorism, and the fact that we sometimes do not know our enemies from our friends is a concept very relevant to our time. So, although I do not believe this "evil is everywhere" idea was central to Shakespeare in his writing of Macbeth it is central to our understanding of present situations and is therefore a very appropriate amelioration to make to a modern version of the play. 

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