The cast of four uses several large hand and rod puppets to interact with the live performers, and, like the Japanese Bunraku puppet theatre, the puppets and the puppeteers are always in full view of the audience. The play, by Gillette Elvgren, leaves many passages of Shakespeare’s original text left intact.
It is an excellent and exciting introduction to the Bard’s genius. This adaptation also calls for audience participation. For example, select children from the audience are asked to hold branches and become the trees of Birnam wood as they advance on Macbeth’s castle. This play has been produced by The Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival Young Company and by the University of Pittsburgh Theatre Arts Department.
From the Play
2 men and 2 women with doubling
They will also handle several puppet characters when needed.
Place: Macbeth’s Castle and Environs
(In the following prologue the theme of ‘wanting too much’ is established and it also serves to provide the children with an ‘introduction’ to the actors and the processes of the theatre, i.e., assuming masks, costumes, puppets, etc. The PORTER character is a kind of BOTTOM, wanting to play all the parts, direct the play and even claim ownership.)
ACTOR 1: Ladies and Gentlemen. . .
ACTOR 2: Boys and girls. . .
ACTOR 3: Today we are going to present to you a play about a man who wanted too much. His name was Macbeth!
ACTOR 4: I’ll play Macbeth. I’ll play him. He’s got the most lines doesn’t he. I mean the story is about him isn’t it? Where’s the crown? Ah, here it is. See it fits. Macbeth, that’s me.
ACTOR : You can’t be Macbeth.
ACTOR 4: Why not?
ACTOR 2: You don’t know the lines.
ACTOR 4: I can learn them. ‘Under the spreading chestnut tree…’
ACTOR 3: Then who will run the puppets?
ACTOR 2: (At one puppet.) Who will be Banquo, Macbeth’s friend who he later tries to do in?
ACTOR 3: Or who will be Duncan, the King of Scotland?
ACTOR : And what about MacDuff who battles Macbeth at the end of the play.
ACTOR 4: Me, me, me and me. I’ll be them all. I’ll be puppet master extraordinaire.
ACTOR 2: (Bringing out a witches headdress or wig.) And who will play the witches.
ACTOR 4: Witches? What do they do?
ACTOR 1: They tell Macbeth what he is going to be.
ACTOR 2: They tell the audience what is coming next.
ACTOR 3: They make magic potions in a big black pot.
ACTOR 4: Oh please, I want to be the witches. ‘Oil, boil, bubbly itches, I want to play all the witches.’ Heh, heh, heh.. . I want it all, Macbeth, the puppet master, the witches, I’ll be everything..