Performance and Interpretation
Chapter 3 traces Macbeth's journey through history, exploring its stage life and examining the play as script and text through the eyes of different actors, spectators, scholars, and critics over the ages. Although the discussion progresses chronologically, each section also addresses issues whose relevance is not bound by a particular time or place.
The first segment, "The Jacobean Stage," places Macbeth in the context of England's theatrical activity at the turn of the seventeenth century, using documentary evidence and educated assumptions about acting companies, playhouses, and the diverse membership of audiences to provide insight into the play's early performances. The study questions also consider general interest in staging, in how to create an acting space where the script is transformed into drama.
"From the Restoration to the Nineteenth Century" studies how political and cultural changes influenced the staging of Macbeth after the theatrical revival following the English revolution. Beyond such specific historical interest, this section considers more broadly ways in which Shakespeare's text is open to different interpretations and how those possibilities translate into producers' choices about ghosts and witches, and actors' decisions about the qualities of guilt and nobility that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth share.