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A Macbeth

This production of A Macbeth is based in part on the ideas of theatrical innovator Antonin Artaud was born in 1896 in Marseilles. As a child he developed meningitis. He survived this always nearly fatal disease, but its effects were last the rest of his life. The disease resulted in a mental disability that prevented Artaud from thinking in a rational manner. He conceived in "thought clusters" an almost poetic and imagistic perception of reality. His mental state directly influenced his revolutionary ideas for the theatre.

Artaud became increasingly dissatisfied with traditional theatre and began a series of explorations that led him to formulate a new theory of theatrical production sometimes referred to as the Theatre of Cruelty. Artaud initially was drawn to Surrealist movement with its emphasis on the subconcious and dreams, but broke with the group because of its association with the Communist party.

Artaud watched the Balinese dance theatre and was increasingly drawn to the idea of the actor as "animated heirloglyph" A heirloglyph relates to spiritual or emotional states having roots in humankind's deepest cultural associations---the human "collective unsconcoius" of which Jung spoke. Artaud believed that theatre should not merely entertain, but should:

  1. Break through the veneer of contemporary culture by a rigourous assault on the senses of the audience.
  2. Reject the literary text as a primary method of theatrical expression
  3. Return to a theatre of myth and ritual.
  4. Emphasize dreams, fantasy, and archetype.
  5. create an all-embracing sensual impact and spectacle.
  6. Achieve a therapeutic purgation in the spectator.

According to Artuad, the more important aspects of existence are those submerged in the unconscious, those things that cause divisions within people and lead to hatred, violence, and disaster. He believed that if given the proper theatrical experiences, people can be freed from ferocity and express the joy that civilization has forced them to repress, for the theatre can evacuate those feelings that are usually expressed in more destructive ways.

Artaud's suggestion to operate directly on the nervous led him to suggest many innovations in theatrical practice. Among these was replacement of the traditional theatre building with remodeled barns, factories, or airplane hangars. He wished to place the audience in the center of the action by locating acting areas in corners, on overhead catwalks and along the walls. In lighting, he called for a "vibrating, shredded" effect, and in sound he favored shrillness, abrupt changes in volume, and the use of human voice to create harmonies and dissonances.

Macbeth is Shakespeare's darkest play and A Macbeth remains true to the original in tone. What is the absence of totally linear story development, although the story of Shakespeare's MACBETH is communicated in a surreal, collage fashion to the audience. What emergences is the experience and feeling of evil rather than a cause-effect theatrical experience. In Marowitz' version, the entire story of MACBETH is presented in "collage" form in about 15 minutes. The author then selects certain occurrences in the plot for additional development as the story is repeated again. To frame the "collage" MACBETH, Marowitz presents it as a mutual hallucination experienced by both Macbeth and Banquo. As we move into the body of the play, Marowitz extends and develops the images and situations presented in the "collage" segment. A MACBETH presents a world of evil and confusion. It is suffused with elements of the supernatural, steeped in myth, ritual, the subconcious mind, and archetype. We have suggested some of these ideas in the staging and music.

Marowitz has included some of these ideas in his script: the characters of Macbeths Two and Three represent different aspects of Macbeth's psyche. You will note the absence of graphic violence . Artaud's "Theatre of Cruelty" did not necessairly involve graphic, but what Artaud referred to as "metaphysical" violence. Metaphysical violence is a violence is a violence that goes beyond horror into terror, a violence that forces each audience member to confront the violence individually through the filters of their own memories and experience. The "murders" of Banquo and Lady MacDuff and her child as staged in this production are examples of our interpretations of Artaud's "metaphysical" violence. Marowitz had remained faithful to Shakespeare's language; he has not altered the structure of Shakespeare's lines, but merely shifted lines from character to character.

A Macbeth Gripping Drama

Matt Tanguay The Eastern Echo March 3, 1993

Haunting, anguish ridden voices explode throughout the theater. They build and fuse into one deafening, desperate beckoning. Then it is silent. Such is the beginning of "A Macbeth," a dizzying and fascinating journey through the fair and foul chambers of the heart and mind. The Ann Arbor Civic Theater's production if "A Macbeth " is a dramatic feast serving a rich assortment of good acting, excellent direction and stirring writing.

A Macbeth Assaults Audience

Karen Lee The Michigan Daily March 15, 1993

"A Macbeth" is not for those unacquainted with Shakespeare's Scottish Play, nor for the faint of heart. Adapted by Charles Marowitz, it is based on the principles of Antonin Artaud, a madman who had an enormous influence on the world of drama with his "Theater of Cruelty."

Popovich Recreating Henry Ford Drama In Ann Arbor

Richard Marsh Press and Guide Feb 18,1993

For those of you who missed Henry Ford Community College's production of "Macbeth" in fall 1991, you have another chance to see a George Popovich version of "Macbeth" done Antonin Artaud style. Popovich and many of the original cast members and technical people are recreating the show for Ann Arbor Civic Theatre (AACT) next month.

Things Of Darkness

Hobey Echlin Metro Times March, 1993

Though "Theatre of Cruelty" sounds more like a heavy metal record title than an aesthetic theorem, it's the name Surrealist bad boy visionary Antonin Artaud chose to describe his experimental thespianism. The Ann Arbor Civic Theatre's production of Charles Marowitz's A Macbeth would make Artaud proud. AACT's production brings Shakespeare's tale of horror and guilt to an altogether more visceral and cerebral level.

In A Macbeth, ACCT Gets Confrontational

Ann Sharp The Ann Arbor News March, 1993

Last year South Africa-born director Stephen Rayne brought his alternative version of Shakespeare's "Macbeth," set in modern day Africa, to the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. This week the Ann Arbor Civic Theatre presents an even more radical take on the Scottish Play what might be called a techno pop 'Macbeth'," directed by AACT new-comer Dr. George Popovich.

A Macbeth

Ann Arbor Observer March, 1993

Henry Ford Community College theatre department director George Popovich directs Charles Marowitz's 1968 version of Shakespeare's famous tragedy. The play, influenced by the ideas of the early 20th century French writer Antonin Artaud, is a condensed version of "Macbeth" that emphasizes and heightens the horror and suspense of the original. while the action proceeds more or less in the same chronological order as Shakespeare's, the dialogue is broken up and placed in the mouths of different characters.

Written by: Charles Marowitz
Directed by: Dr. George Popovich
March 11-27, 1993

Cast and Crew

  • Macbeth: Steve Memran
  • Macduff: Peter Fletcher
  • Duncan: Phillip Matora
  • Banquo: Jason Winslade
  • Malcolm: Paul Bartley
  • Fleance: Brent Brozek
  • Witch 1: Tracy Spada
  • Witch 2: Rachel Soszynski
  • Witch 3: Lori Przyblo
  • Child Macduff: Lucia Mazzola
  • Messenger: Brent Brozek
  • Lady Macduff: Rachel Soszynski
  • Preist: Jason Winslade
  • Second Macbeth: Kevin Walsh
  • Third Macbeth: MD Petee
  • Warriors: EJ Holowicki, Tom Underwood, Jason Winslade
  • Witches: EJ Holowicki, Heather Raye, Sandee Rager, Roseann Gruley, Tom Underwood