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‘Something wicked…’: Macbeth (BBC, 2010)

Macbeth, 2010, with Patrick Stewart and Kate FleetwoodAlthough the blog to date has been largely concerned with adaptations through to the 1960s, Screen Plays as a research project is interested in the presentation of stage plays on screen right up to the present day. One of the most recent is the Illuminations film of Macbeth, screened on the BBC at the end of 2010 and for which I was the co-producer (with Sebastian Grant). After too long a wait for all of us, Macbeth is released today on DVD (with a Blu-ray about a week away). You can buy copies here or via the usual outlets like Amazon, Moviemail and so forth.

The film, which stars Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood, is directed by Rupert Goold and based on his stage production that was originally presented at the Chichester Festival Theatre. It locates the play in a twentieth-century totalitarian state with echoes of the world beyond the Iron Curtain.  Both stage production and film were very highly praised.

Students of stage plays on screen may be interested that I blogged the production process through the shoot and afterwards, and the following links may give a sense of one path for an ambitious film version of a stage play to reach the screen.

Blogging the Bard II: Macbeth: a page with further links to each of the day’s posts while we were filming at Welbeck Abbey in November 2009.

Macbeth with Sir Patrick Stewart – the Scottish play from stage to screen: a BBC blog by me about the production process.

Macbeth in the Paris – and on PBS: the film was co-produced by WNET13 and the PBS series Great Performances, and it premiered in the United States in October 2010; this post by Seb Grant is about the first screening, but it also features a selection of the Twitter reaction during the PBS broadcast.

‘…and last, the hearty welcome’ [Updated]: a selection of the press reaction.

Debate – should theatre be on television?: a lengthy but (I hope) interesting discussion for The Arts Desk between the producer Harry Burton and myself.



One thought on “‘Something wicked…’: Macbeth (BBC, 2010)

  1. Regarding “Debate – Should theatre be on television?,” first, it rankles me when editors write headlines like this … the implication being that, of course, theatre should not be on television! A more balanced headline would have read: Theatre’s Role in Television … or something like that.

    Secondly, regarding the “debate,” there is always room for theater on television, whether it’s a filmed stage production (like Greg Doran’s “Hamlet”) or a film from a stage production, like Rupert Goold’s “Macbeth,” as John Wyver stated in the interview.

    There is room for many kinds of productions on television. Too many times, television executives wrongly believe it’s up to them to decide what to feed to the audience, but they just don’t get it. It’s up to the audience to embrace or reject productions — not the execs. Sure, they might make a bad call at times and produce/show a flop, and lose money, but that’s the chance one takes in a creative industry — it’s not pure science. TV, film and theater have always been written for the audience. Shakespeare and other writers knew that; it’s time the powers-that-be are reminded of that, too.

    Posted by Helene Giansante | 22 June 2011, 12:38 pm

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