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Setting the Scene

The History Behind Macbeth

To anyone familiar with Shakespeare's play, the name evokes a sense of insatiably power-hungry madness. It is a show of depth and complexity that far exceeds both the limits of time and the limits of imagination, from when it was first performed circa 1605 to the modern day. Also, like all of Shakespeare's plays, the nature of Macbeth allows it to be set and staged in a variety of fashions, from the Highlands of Scotland to a diner in the Outback of Australia.

The original production revolved around the succession of the House of Stuart to the English throne following the death of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. The Stuarts, who were distant cousins to the previous Tudor monarchs, are direct descendants of both the historical Banquo and Duncan, and the play was intended to show how they were divinely destined to rule both in Scotland and in England (Act IV.i). The two kingdoms were ruled jointly by Personal Union under the monarch until the passage of the Acts of Union in 1707 and again in 1800, which ultimately established the United Kingdom.

Though it is often classed with other Shakespearian tragedies, like King Lear and Othello, Macbeth also serves as a dramatized history of a united Scotland when England was but a collection of minor king- and earldoms. The eponymous anti-hero, as well as several other leading characters, is in fact based on historic persons who lived during the early 11th century AD. Indeed, despite the villification received through the play, the historical Macbeth is believed to have been among the best of Medieval Scotland's kings, and he ruled justly for 17 years before being ousted by an English invasion.

Act I: Morning After Battle
Afghanistan in the Modern Age

Act II: After the Killing of King Duncan
Afghanistan in the Modern Age

Publication Date







The Masque


Theatre and Performance Studies


Producer's Corner

Welcome to the Masque of La Salle's production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. We are excited and proud to finish the 2011-12 season by tackling the Bard's tragic rise and fall of the infamous king of Scotland. I hope everyone will walk away from this production with an appreciation for how this classic tale can ring true across time and space, whether set in the medieval Scottish Highlands or a modern Middle Eastern warzone. Power corrupts even the greatest of human hearts, and violence will spur only more violence, lessons which may serve us well in modern Philadelphia.

Macbeth has offered us the opportunity to work once again with Tom Reing, our beloved returning director. We are grateful for all of his work on and patience with this production. His vision and guidance have been inspiring to us all.

Our gratitude and appreciation go out to all that have a role in making this production possible: Administrative Services, University Advancement, University Communications, The Dean of Students Office, Physical Facilities, the Programming Center, and Multimedia Services. We would especially like to thank David Sullivan for offering his advice with regards to the technical aspects of the show. The Executive Board also would like to personally thank our advisor, Dawn Wanner, for her support of, pride in, and dedication to this production.

Thank you for your attendance today and enjoy the show!

Mary Kate Gillespie
Producer and President

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