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An Interview with Shakespeare

28 October 200910:42AMfiction

Disclaimer: I have not interviewed Shakespeare. I do not run an Elizabethan Theatregoer's periodical. I didn't really do much research. Some of the 'facts' in this may not be facts as such. Some of them are. Take whatever you read with a grain of salt. Never spit into the wind. Don't talk to strangers. Enjoy.


By far the most anticipated play of the season this year is Shakespeare's latest work, Macbeth. We talked with Mr. Shakespeare and asked him a few questions about the play.

Theatre Today: So, Mister Shakespeare-

William Shakespeare: Please. Call me Will.

TT: Most certainly, Mister Will. We wish to enquire about-

WS: And you can drop that ridiculous accent too. [Interblag readers: The original has an olde stlye font for TT's questions, which is the 'accent' Will is referring to]

TT: Oh thank the lord. You have no idea how tiring that is.

WS: Oh, believe me, I do.

TT: So. Tell us about your latest play.

WS: Well, as your readers probably know, it's called Macbeth. I'm quite pleased with it, and I'm rather excited about the direction it could be taking theatre. It's based loosely around certain events in Scotland- in fact, the crew has taken to calling it 'the Scottish play'.

TT: Charming. So, you're best known for your Comedies, Tragedies and Histories. Which is Macbeth?

WS: That's a very interesting question. I think Macbeth blurs the lines a bit. Obviously, as you'll have seen from the preview, it's very dark, so it will most likely be billed as a Tragedy. However, it's based on actual historical events, although I took some creative license, and Macbeth was an actual king of Scotland. In that respect it has elements of a typical History. It also has a few scenes where I'm afraid it doesn't take itself entirely seriously-

TT: The scene where Duncan arrives at Macbeth's castle comes to mind.

WS: Yes, that was meant to be rather ironic. Also, the interlude where the porter-

TT: Oh yes, that had us in stitches.

WS: And like most good comedies, it ends on a more hopeful note. So I think it has elements of all three. I was really trying for entertainment value rather than obvious genre conformity.

TT: Well, I must say it worked out on that account.

WS: Thank you.

TT: There has been some criticism of Macbeth from several parties. We understand you've received complaints from the Puritans?

WS: Yes, I've had some rather nasty and poorly spelled letters from certain groups. The supernatural is a large component of the play, which I think gives it that element of... otherness. It's not just about Macbeth anymore, it's about whether he, or anyone for that matter, had any control over the situation to begin with.

TT: And did they?

WS: (laughs) I think we'll leave that one for the audience to decide for themselves.

TT: You play the lead roles in most of your plays. How did you plan on playing Macbeth?

WS: Well, I tried to bring an element of inner conflict to the character, although obviously not to the extent of Hamlet. Macbeth gets to a point where he doesn't want to go any further, but has to anyway as he's committed himself to his course. I tried to play up that realisation, as well as the bloodlust and impulsiveness he develops later in the play, compared to his more vague ambitiousness toward the beginning. This is what I mean though, it does get people thinking more than just two and a half hours of murder would.

TT: Yes, you mentioned the running time there. At just under three hours it's a little shorter than some of your other works...

WS: Well, yes. I wanted a faster-paced, less philosophical piece, to really open up theatre to the masses. Obviously it's still got food for thought in there, but as I said earlier, I was trying for something, not necessarily lighter, but possibly more action-based than, say, Hamlet-

TT: Yes, I must say as a protagonist I vastly prefer Macbeth to Hamlet. One can only take so much indecision! No offense, of course.

WS: None taken. Macbeth and Hamlet are entirely different people, despite being in similar situations. Hamlet, I think- you aren't supposed to sympathise with his indecision, whereas Macbeth you end up questioning whether his decisions were really his to begin with, and that almost brings a sense of pity.

TT: Ah, you referred there to Lady Macbeth?

WS: Yes. A woman as ambitious and intelligent- a novel idea, for sooth, but one I think we'll be seeing more and more of in the future. She ends up meeting a sticky fate, of course, but for a while there she did have the upper hand over the king of an entire nation.

TT: An intriguing notion, and, as you say, one we'll be seeing more of I hope, in this enlightened age after Elizabeth- God Save the King.

WS: God Save the King Indeed. His Majesty should enjoy Macbeth, we made sure his side won.

TT: (laughs) Time for just one more question. Critics have called Macbeth, and I quote, "Shakespeare's Bloodieste Worke to Date". How does that fit in with how you'd planned the release?

WS: I haven't counted the deaths, of course, although I believe our good friend Hamlet still holds the upper hand on that one-

TT: (laughs)

WS: And as far as the on-stage violence goes, well, it just serves to illustrate what a monster Macbeth becomes by the end, which makes the retribution he receives from our true heroes at the end that much more deserved.

TT: Mr. Shakespeare, thank you for your time.

WS: My pleasure.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE'S MACBETH opens at The Globe Theatre on Tuesday Night.

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