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Macbeth...Curiosity and Intrigue

William Shakespeare's Macbeth is the inspiration for our first play in the BARD HEADS series, The Third Witch From The Left, in witch (see what we did there?) we meet Meg. Meg is a witch who is haunted by the events that occurred on the blasted heath and she take a time travelling journey to find the answers she so desperately needs. In celebration of our first live-streamed play in the series we've pulled together some fascinating facts about Shakespeare's masterpiece for you.

1. Macbeth was a real Scottish King

Not actually the real Macbeth...but he could be!

As we all know, Shakespeare loved taking historical fact and reworking it for dramatic effect (Richard III ring any bells?) and Macbeth was no different. Macbeth (or Mac Bethad mac Findlaích in Medieval Gaelic) was King of the Scots from 1040 until his death in 1057. Macbeth's reign was largely peaceful and it can be said he was a fairly popular King. Shakespeare's version of course would have us believe differently with the title character laying waste to anyone who might be perceived as a threat. One of first assassinations Macbeth orders in the play is that of Banquo, who was thought at the time to have been a descendent of King James I (or VI if you're Scottish) who reigned at the time. Royals throughout the ages have been subject to inaccurate dramatisations of their lives for centuries and it continues to this day. Shakespeare wasn't the first and he certainly wasn't the last writer to play fast and loose with the truth!

Disney's Evil Queen was inspired by Lady M.

2. Disney's Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is based on the character of Lady Macbeth.

Lovers of Disney and of Shakespeare will know that there are an incredible number of Shakespearean references littered throughout the films. One of the most blatant is the character of the Evil Queen from Academy Award winning animation Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Walt Disney himself is quoted as saying that he envisioned the Queen as

"a mixture of Lady Macbeth and The Big Bad Wolf". We'd say he nailed it!

3. All four of the actors to play Professor X and Magneto in the X-Men Film series have played Macbeth on stage and screen.

Sir Patrick Stewart

They may be big-time Hollywood heavyweights, but Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen, Michael Fassbender and James McAvoy have all played the ill-fated King. It is a masterful role that requires stamina and skill from the actor playing it, so it's no surprise that these four have all stepped up to the challenge.

4. It's the only Shakespeare play to feature the word Rhinoceros.

" Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear,

The armed rhinoceros, or th' Hyrcan tiger; "

A good motto for life we feel.

5. The commonly known phrase 'steal my thunder' comes from a performance of Macbeth.

Okay, Shakespeare never wrote the words but it's still down to a production of the play. In 1704 John Dennis invented a new sound-effect for the play, Liberty Asserted at the Drury Lane Theatre. It was a simple but effective use of sheet-metal to create the sound of thunder. The play itself caused few ripples in the theatrical world and was eventually replaced with a production guessed it...Macbeth! That production utilised John Dennis' sound effect and after Dennis saw the show, accused the theatre of stealing his thunder!


The Third Witch From The Left is the first play in our BARD HEADS series of live-streamed performances and will be showing on the 14th January 2021. You can book tickets for all of the shows by clicking here.

Don't miss out on live theatre during lockdown.

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