Summer Books: Comparing Performances of Macbeth

summer books Comparing performances of Macbeth
It’s Shakespeare week. And, really, It couldn’t have come at a better time…for any of us.
As you may know, we tackled the lovely Winter’s Tale last Christmas by illustrating our favourite scenes and creating cover designs! [Check out our Winter’s Tale posts here!]
Well, grab your kilts and your broomsticks, people, because, this summer, it’s Macbeth!
Taking a break from our simple read-aloud and illustrate format of the past few weeks, we’re going to be using our minds, our bodies and our mouths to observe, re-create, compare and contrast both film and live-stage productions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth!

This week’s Macbeth Schedule:

  • On Wednesday, we’re watching the BBC Animated Shakespeare Macbeth as a “short feature” before we watch the recent 2010 Great Performances production featuring Patrick Stewart. You can actually watch the whole thing online at the pbs website! How cool!!! [ Just a warning about content, here. This is a very bloody, and often rather disturbing production. The  witches are played by 3 “nurses” who appear throughout the production. They pull a heart from a dead body towards the beginning.  My kids were fine with this, but if you want something a little less gruesome, go for the Mckellen film below!]
  • On Thursday, we’ll watch the Ian McKellen film from 1978, maybe a youtube video of McKellen’s analysis of the “tomorrow” speech, and maybe a few bits of the Verdi opera [there are plenty of full-length Verdi Macbeths available right on youtube. I might just show them this sleepwalking scene from the Zurich Opera featuring Paoletta Maroccu.]
  • On Friday, the kids will act out the “witches” scene, a bit of the “out damned spot” speech, and a bit of the “tomorrow” speech on the porch and videotape themselves. I’m hoping they end up memorizing bits of this as they go along!
  • On Saturday, we’ll try out either the Orson Welles or Roman Polanski film…or we might go all rogue and try the Kurosawa Throne of Blood!
  • And on Sunday, if the weather holds (we were rained out this Wednesday!), we’ll catch the Canadian Stage production of  Macbeth in Toronto’s High Park.

I’m actually glad it rained on Wednesday, because the kids will really have a sense of what’s what before they actually see the live production!

As we watch each version and do a bit of our own performing, I am going to have the kids focus, in particular, on a few key scenes and facilitate lively discussion about how they differed in each performance. This week it’s all observation, performance and talk:

  • Act I, iii Macbeth and Banquo meet the famous witches
  • Act II, i-ii. Macbeth kills Duncan, and he discusses this with Lady Macbeth
  • Act III, iv Ghost of Banquo at the Banquet
  • Act V.i. Lady Macbeth with blood on her hands
  • Act V, viii The story of McDuff’s birth and what follows.
  • This will likely morph into a discussion of their own favourite parts of the play.

If you’re into kids film reviews, check out our free printable Film Review worksheet from last summer’s Film Fest!

Take Care, everyone. Take Care.

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