SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE 201530 DIRECTORS NOTES Kirsten Brandt Macbeth is an endlessly fascinating psychological profile of power and ambition which has captivated me for years. A decade ago I directed a production in San Diego at the avant- garde theatre I was running at the time and its themes have never left me. Its a complex study of what it is to be human of how we wrestle with the dark sides of our nature and how we come to terms with the choices we have made. As I approach directing the play for the second but not last time I am captivated by the politics of it. We are on the cusp of an election year where we will be asking ourselves questions about who will lead our country. In Macbeth Shakespeare asks us Who has the right to rule What are the virtues we are looking for in a leader Should we follow the brave and gallant Macbeth or Duncans heir the young Malcolm Who gets our loyalty Who deserves it Who is fit to govern On the domestic front Shakespeare dives into the politics of marriage. He asks us What makes a good marriage What is a strong partnership But he also makes us question our loyalty in love What would you do for love Would you kill a king Perhaps the greatest power duo in all the Shakespeare canon is the Scottish Thane and his Lady and these character studies still resonate today just turn on an episode of House of Cards for a modern take. The Macbeths forge a partnership that could conquer the world if they remain united. But the moment the pair work solo everything begins to crumble. I have set the play in medieval Scotland where the supernatural is believed and omens heeded where prophecies can come true and dark ministers tend on mortal thought. But this is a world where a persons fate lies in his or her own hands. So screw your courage to the sticking place and enjoy. DRAMATURGS NOTES Mara Sherman Shakespeare probably wrote Macbeth in 1606 soon after King Lear and three years after King James VI of Scotland a man who traced his descent from Banquo became King James I of England. It was in Holinsheds Chronicles of England Ireland and Scotland his source for his English histories that Shakespeare found the story of Macbeth and Banquos encounter with the Weird Sisters and their prophecies. In the plays second scene multiple characters report on the events of a recently concluded battle establishing that Macbeth is a brave warrior and an honorable man. Subsequently King Duncan rewards Macbeth with a new title although Macbeth first learns of his advancement from the three Weird Sisters. Their prophecy that Macbeth will become Thane of Cawdor and then King awakens his latent ambition and provokes him to regicide. The main action of the play follows Macbeth and his Lady in their rise to power and eventual downfall. Encouraged by his wife who is more than his equal in both ambition and ruthlessness Macbeth commits a series of violent acts to first gain then keep political power. The couples guilt which is paralleled only by their deep affection for one another plunges them into both physical and spiritual distress driving the play towards its tragic conclusion. Despite Macbeths singular focus on its central character the play is not uniformly serious in tone. The comic interlude with the drunk Porter is made all the funnier by its proximity to tragedy and Malcolm Donalbain and the Macduff family provide the play with a virtuous counterpoint to the Macbeths and their depravity. The play ends in the words of the Weird Sisters with a battle lost and won and on a note of cautious optimism.