Forward and instructions written by Jim Devenport, edited by Mason Egger
This adaptation of Macbeth is designed specifically for young performers. It calls for a great deal of physical acting on the part of all performers. Creating a Lord of the Flies or Jeremiah (i.e. youthful and barbarous) reality is appropriate for this particular adaptation. The only character that has to be of an older age is Duncan, and he can be portrayed in his young thirties. If the director chooses to age the characters, it should be done with only costume pieces, and the voice and body of the actor/actress. A full costume and make-up job to create age for a single character is simply not practical for this adaptation. Stylized make-up to create another world for the play is, however, appropriate if the director so chooses. A contemporary choice of music is also acceptable.
In this adaptatin, no attempt should be made to costume the show in the 11th century Scottish style, nor in the more traditional Elizabethan style. It should be costumed as in a long forgotten past or post-apocalyptic future. At any rate, every attempt should be made to create a world, unique to this play. This is, for the most part, a gender-blind version. With the exception of Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Macduff, and Lady Macduff, the sex of the actor/actress playing the part is of no consequence. The emphasis should be on the concepts of Warrior, Ruler, Parent, Child, or Evil rather than sex of the actor. Not only does this provide the director with a great deal of flexibility in casting, it also provides more opportunity for young actresses to participate and receive the eductational benefits of performing Shakespeare. Costuming should, therefore, be somewhat uniform and unisexual. Only the smallest of costume pieces should be used to separate one character from another when an actor/actress is playing multiple parts.
For most of the smaller roles such as Lennox, Angus and Ross etc. who appear in more than once scene, the actor playing the part should concentrate on the function his or her character plays in a scene rather than trying to develop the character across the entire play. The length of the cutting simply makes such a development impossible. For the most part, in this adaptation the names of these characters are replaced with generic titles such as Thane, Guest and Servant etc., which provides the director with a greator flexibility in casting.
This is a choral or company ensemble adaptation designed for a company of about twelve to fifteen actors. Except for the briefest moments, no one in the cast leaves the stage; for the most part, characters emerge from and return to the chorus. The size of the company is also quite flexible. By cutting the nonverbal battle scenes; making the actors/actresses who play the witches more a part of the main chorus ensemble; and making slight adjustments to the stage directions, this adaptation could be performed by as few as eight to ten performers.
This is, however, and adaptation, not an attempted rewrite. With the exception of [he/she] or [him/her] and slight adjustments when the gender of the character has been changed, the only changes in the language have been cuts. There have been a few nonverbal scense added to make the play more accessible to those who may not be familiar with the story line. In a few instances, lines have been slightly rearranged in order to shorten the play to a one-act.
In its present form, this adaptation is probably too long for festival and UIL purposes. Further line to line cuts, and the removal of whole scense will doubtlessly be necessary to stay within the rules governing UIL and many festivals.
I may choose to employ fog machines or hazers, portable lights, and soft goods. All use of such items will stay within the UIL rules governing them.