Modern Macbeth in Hong Kong

by Leung, Hoi-kei

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) Chapter 1 Introduction William Shakespeare's play Macbeth is a text on a man's journey to the road of destruction, related in some fundamental way to his ambition and the witches' prophecies of his destiny. John F. Andrews states that the fundamental reason why Macbeth travels this path of evilness and destruction is due to "his crucial element for evil: a tragic flaw. In his case, vaulting ambition." (Andrews 1) This is just but one of the many critical examples that portray the importance of ambition in causing Macbeth's downfall, as this ambition is awakened by the witches' prophecies of his destiny.1 This thesis Modern Macbeth in Hong Kong aims to explore further especially the relationship between the witches, their prophecies and Macbeth's destiny by comparing Shakespeare's Macbeth and a production performed by the Hong Kong Academy of Arts (HKAPA) students at the Studio Theatre on 15th December, 2001. While the play emphasizes a portrayal of the weird sisters through ambiguity, including indirect narration and other characters' vivid description of them, the HKAPA representation provides a representation of the witches as more definitively fateful, through theatrical devices, costumes and alternations in the translation of the text. 1 See A.C. Bradley's Shakespearean Tragedy for a representative take on Macbeth and his ambition; "That the influence of the first prophecies upon him came as much from himself as from them, is made abundantly clear by the obviously intentional contrast between him and Banquo." (Bradley, 287) The beginning chapter of the thesis Comparison of Shakespeare's Macbeth and the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts 2001 Production aims to compare the adaptation of witches in the APA production with representation of them in the play. The emphasis in this chapter is on ambiguity in the text and, in contrast, the more expressive witches of APA in speech and their less ambivalent prophecies for Macbeth. Theatrical devices in the production such as props and lighting which will be discussed at length, also aid this grasp of the image of the three weird sisters, changing the flavor of the Shakespeare's original text. The following chapter The Evolving Function of the Witches' Costumes extends the contrast of the two productions by focusing on the witches' costumes. The representation in the Hong Kong production displays the witches as creatures of inhumanness and eternity which helps the evolution of the plot. Interestingly, Shakespeare provide few details on the witches' costumes and the primary source of their costumes is given by Banquo. The dissertation continues with a chapter on Lady Macbeth - Lady Macbeth, Identity and Destiny. Nicholas Marsh regards her as "the fourth witch" of the play due to her willingness to disregard her femininity so that she is strong enough to support her husband." (Marsh 12) Although the text portray her as "a lonely, slightly mad, desolate figure." (Andrews 2), the HKAPA representation magnifies the madness of Lady Macbeth through the use of costumes and alterations in the script. Therefore, Lady Macbeth on the Hong Kong stage appears to be a more pathetic figure than she does in the original text. The same case in comparison many be argued with regard to the character Macbeth. The last chapter of the thesis Macbeth, Blood and His Destiny deals with this issue and explains how in the original text and in the 2001 HKAPA production Macbeth experiences his tragic downfall from a hero to a weak character. This chapter on Macbeth highlights Macbeth's contrast in identity from a violent hero of the country to a weak character fighting for his last respects. Macbeth's change in character is magnified again in the HKAPA adaptation with the aid of theatrical metaphors based on designated colors and props. The above chapters aim overall, therefore, to reveal the inter-relationship between the witches with regard to Macbeth's destiny, as these instruments of darkness promote self destruction to Macbeth.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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