Keith Cassidy and Bridget Connors in MACBETH
Since 1986 at the Burstein Family Stage Home of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
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by William Shakespeare

  • Shakespeare found the basis for his play Macbeth in Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles, in turn based on Hector Boece's Scotorum Historiae (Stories of Scotland) and on Chronica Gentis Scotorum (Chronicles of the Scottish Peoples) by John of Fordun.
  • Macbeth, whose name means son of life in Old English married the widow of his enemy Gillacomgain and gave her the title Ghruoch (Gaelic for Lady).
  • They were both descendants of Scotland's first king: Kenneth of the MacAlpin clan, who united the Picts and the Scots to ensure stability in a world of violent feuding warlords.
  • King Duncan ruled in Scotland and married Sibylla, a Norse Princess, with whom he had many sons, one of them Malcolm.
  • Macbeth defeated and killed Duncan in battle, and Malcolm fled to England.
  • In 1054 Malcolm invaded Scotland and killed Macbeth in the battle of Dunsinane.
  • The three Weird Sisters are similar to the Fates of Greek mythology and the Norns of Norse mythology. All in threes. Weird is Old English for destiny or fate.
  • Macbeth is supposed to be unlucky. Superstition requires those involved in productions never to say the play's title while in rehearsals (never but never inside the theatre), but rather The Scottish Play. Some pragmatists think the play's vision of evil explains all the nonsense about the bad luck.
  • For those not sure, there's a prayer commonly used among theatre folk before rehearsals and performances:

    May we who work on this play
    and they who see it,
    be guided to choose
    peace over violence,
    love over vanity,
    hope over despair.

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