Discuss how you, as a director, would stage a scene in Macbeth in order to convey the theme of manipulation.
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Perhaps staging the scene of Lady Macbeth's manipulation of her husband as she asks him to dig deep for his courage could visiualize the imagery of her speech:
But screw your courage to the sticking-place,
And we'll not fail. When Duncan is asleep—
Whereto the rather shall his day's hard journey
Soundly invite him—his two chamberlains
Will I with wine and wassail so convince,
That memory, the warder of the brain,
Shall be a fume and the receipt of reason
A limbec only. When in swinish sleep
Their drenched natures lie as in a death,
What cannot you and I perform upon
The unguarded Duncan? What not put upon
His spongy officers, who shall bear the guilt
Of our great quell?(1.7.68-80)
There are the visual images of smoke and blood and death in these lines that could be suggested with lighting and mists in the background as Lady Macbeth speaks. Certainly, appropriate music would suggest the sinister and unnaturalness of the acts to be committed.
Since I've already given my idea about Lady Macbeth's manipulation of her husband, I'll focus on the witches here. Better than anything I could ever think of was what I observed at the actual Globe Theater in London in the last few years. I was blessed to be a "groundling" at Macbeth and saw a VERY interesting method of manipulation by the witches. They used SONG, ... which was very Squirrel-Nut-Zipper-Esque, I must say. Lots of repetetive, jazzy motifs that literally POUNDED the idea of kingship into Macbeth's brain. For the first time, here was a presentation that made (at least the voices of) the witches seem attractive and alluring. If I were to direct this scene, I simply couldn't do it any other way!
I would want to focus on the link between the witches and Lady Macbeth in my version of this tremendous tragedy. I have always been struck by the similarities between them, chiefly in the way in which that they both play a key role in manipulating Macbeth and taunt him by dangling possibilities of various futures in front of him. It would be interesting to draw attention to this similarity, perhaps by having the witches and Lady Macbeth tempt him and manipulate him in the same way, perhaps using the same body language, or even tone of voice.
Clearly, scenes you might like to focus on could be Act I scene 5 or Act I scene 7, where Lady Macbeth in both scenes manipulates her husband. We have already seen the witches, so this would be a perfect opportunity to establish the similarity between these characters through some of the methods I suggested above. What would make the play really interesting would be if Macbeth adopts those same characteristics when he comes to manipulate others, such as the murderers and the lords. An important element of this theme is the way that Macbeth quickly shows himself very able to commit his own acts of violence and his own acts of manipulation without the help of others. A shrewd director would draw attention to the way in which he "inherits" this skill and then approrpriates it for himself.
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