Analysis of Macbeth Staged by Ankara State Theatre

Macbeth, one of the masterpieces of William Shakespeare, was played at Cüneyt Gökçer Auditorium in Çayyolu, Ankara on 6th March, 2014. Shakespeare was considered as the most talented playwright in his own era and among many tragedies which were written by him, Macbeth is one of the most famous ones. The success of Shakespeare and his tragedy Macbeth are still obvious since the theatre was full with audience who were attracted to see that famous tragedy. Orhan Burian, who translated Othello and Hamlet as well, was the translator of the play while Bozkurt Kuruç was the director who has directed many important plays such as Oedipus, Sherlock Holmes, and Blood Wedding so far. Sinan Pekinton was sharing the leading roles with İpek Çeçen: He was representing King Macbeth while Çeçen was his wife, Lady Macbeth. The three witches were represented by Ferahnur Barut, Füsun Akay, Yaprak Selin Onat. Other important characters were: Duncan represented by Mehmet Gökçer; Banquo represented by İsmet Numanoğlu, Macduff represented by Tolga Tekin and Malcolm represented by İrfan Kılınç. The splendid acting of the actors and actresses combined with the facilities of newly-built Cüneyt Gökçer Auditorium, therefore watching the play became much more delighting. The play started with a blue lightning effect and an intense smoke in the middle of the stage where the witches gathered to cast a spell upon Macbeth around their cauldron. It was quite an exciting start when the facilities of a theatre were considered. In addition, although I was sitting in the rear row of seats in the circle, I was able to clearly see the stage and hear the lines of the performers thanks to the seating plan. Stage design was changed for a couple of times; however that process happened pretty quickly so that the audience were not distracted from the play.

The tragedy Macbeth is basically about a king who interferes with his fate due to being overwhelmed by his ambitions through his wife’s provocation. When three witches predict that Macbeth will eventually become the king one day, he decides to kill the present king Duncan by making a murdering plan with his wife. They smear the blood of Duncan on the guards so that they could put the blame on them. Their plan works and the crown passes to Macbeth. However, the murders continue and Macbeth kills anyone who stands in his way, including his ally Banquo. Finally, Macbeth starts to see ghosts and his wife becomes a noctambulist talking about her bloody hands in her sleep and commits suicide. Macduff gathers his allies to take revenge from Macbeth who kills his family and claims his lands. He makes a clever plan and the soldiers hiding behind the tree branches gradually approach to Macbeth’s castle. The “walking forest” is a prophecy of three witches too, and Macbeth is defeated by Macduff with his head stuck in Macduff’s sword. The mood was tense, sinister and murky due to the murders, witches and ghosts until the last scene when Macbeth is killed by Macduff and his doing the justice was celebrated effusively by the crowd. The peak points of the play were the murder of Duncan, Lady Macbeth’s talking in her sleep in front of the priest and Macbeth’s seeing ghosts in front of the guests. Those scenes aroused curiosity since King and Lady Macbeth could be suspected or caught for their murder. The main idea and the message to be delivered in the play is that over-ambition is destructive. Power corrupts Macbeth who is actually a good-hearted man and he destructs both himself and his wife who initially encourages him for evil. Finally, in style, the play was Brechtian since there was an apparent distance between the actors and their characters. Every character was delivering their specific characteristics, gestures or expressions, so the audience were led to think critically and interpret those aspects. For instance, Lady Macbeth was repeatedly using some gestures such as touching Macbeth’s shoulders or leaning her head on his chest while she was trying to convince him to do evil. King Macbeth, on the other hand, was trying to stay out of her and seemed to be lost in thoughts at those moments. This indicates that Macbeth has a conscientious side and he contradicts between choosing good or evil, however his wife is rather manipulative and she twists Macbeth’s mind by using some uplifting expressions as well as her body language.

The production including the lighting, music, sound effects, costumes, make up, and stage design was another factor which made the play successful. The costumes were quite realistic since they were successfully reflecting the upper class of 17th century. The armours and swords which are used in duel scenes made the play realistic, too. The very white night dress which is put on by Lady Macbeth when she was sleepwalking was reflecting the tragedy by making her look like a ghost. This dress was probably representing Lady Macbeth’s becoming an insensitive and soulless woman just like a ghost. In the last scene of the play, Macbeth’s head was stuck into Macduff’s sword. The head was a successfully mummified version of Sinan Pekinton’s head and it indicated that the play was arranged down to the last detail. The three witches’ ugly make-up, fluffy and grey wigs, ragged and dirty clothes attracted the attention of the audience as well as the ghosts’ white and scary make-up. The blood on Macbeth and his wife’s hands made the play realistic, too. The lightning sound for the witches’ scene and the epic music for the war and kingship scenes were appropriate. A bright light was following the ghosts while they were walking through the stage and this provided the audience to identify with Macbeth since he was the only one in the crowd who saw the ghosts and got mad. Stage design was mostly fine, however the figurant soldiers could have been more in number since the stage was huge and they seemed inadequate in the war scenes.

General reaction of the audience towards the play was positive since the actors and actresses were applauded loudly at the end of the play. I witnessed that many people bought the booklet about the play which is sold in the theatre and they were eager to see the play. During the break, I heard several people saying that they were amazed by İpek Çeçen’s (Lady Macbeth) performance. I should agree that she was the most successful performer of the play since she could featly deliver the messages of the play through her gestures, mimics and tone of voice. Although she was an evil character of the play, she managed to gain sympathy of the audience due to her successful acting. The witches constructed the most entertaining part of the play since their appearance and voice made the audience laugh. They were squawking some absurd ballads all together and dancing around their cauldron, so they did not allow the audience to distract from the play. The epic last scene with Macduff holding Macbeth’s head cheered and excited the audience, so most of the audience must have believed that the justice had been done. The play sometimes became stable and I felt that the audience were getting bored; however, the unexpected ghost scenes made the audience become engrossed in the play again. I especially liked the performances of İpek Çeçen and Sinan Pekinton since they acted without forgetting any lines and they were able to reflect their feeling to the audience. I was able to appreciate Macbeth’s tension and Lady Macbeth’s ambition in the murder scenes as well as I appreciated Macduff’s pain and reason to declare war on Macbeth. As a whole, Shakespeare’s peerless tragedy Macbeth was staged quite successfully thanks to the director, translator, performers and the production and I left the auditorium very pleased. 

                                                                                                          Ceren Halıcı ELIT II

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