Monday, November 10, 2008

Booth's Macbeth

In celebration of the birthday of the great American Actor Edwin Booth (brother of John Wilkes Booth) on Thursday, we are going to look at a production concept for Macbeth devised by New York actor Anthony Nelson.

Edwin Booth is often considered one of the finest American actors of the 19th Century and one of the great Hamlets. Macbeth was considered the seminal Shakespearean work of the 19th Century in the way Hamlet was considered the ultimate work in the 20th Century.

So in this version, Edwin Booth, was on the bill to play the title role, but is unable to go on for whatever reason. So his understudy and younger brother John Wilkes goes on in his place. At this time the play and reality begin to merge. It is a world that has just seen some awesome battles in a war won for the king - who begins to look strikingly like President Abraham Lincoln. Macbeth murders Duncan or is it Booth killing Lincoln?

From here the parallels between Macbeth and the American Civil War begin to weaken, but it is an interesting idea given the history of the play and the theatre's intertwining with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

Happy Birthday: Richard Burton (1925-1984), Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774), Claude Rains (1889-1967), & Tim Rice (b. 1944)

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