“This is Macbeth” is an educational video with teachers and students of “Macbeth” as its intended audience. The film uses the conceit of a newscaster interviewing the different characters in the play. The film alternates between interview scenes, in which the newscaster asks the characters about what they are thinking, and scenes acting out the Shakespearean script. The interview scenes are delivered in modern English while the scenes from the play are delivered in their original dialogue. Throughout the video, the actors remain in-character. The interviews also include strolls of text that mimic headlines in news shows and that ask key question or reinforce events of the story. Oftentimes, during the interviews, the interviewer will ask a character about something he or she says in the play in order to clarify what a significant line means.
The film-makers of “This is Macbeth” intend for this film to help students comprehend “Macbeth.” The website for the film suggests using the film either to review scenes that students have first engaged with or using the film as an introduction for students struggling with the language of “Macbeth”. Because the interview scenes presented in modern English occur before the scenes from the actual play, the interview scenes help students understand the plot that will be enacted. The video also helps students understand what has occurred through a rhyming song that appears at the end of each scene. The song sums up what has happened so far and makes predictions about what may happen later. Finally, written words incorporated into the film highlight important phrases, questions, and ideas. The main issue for understanding this source would be for students to be able to understand the conceit of the actors speaking in-character as interview subjects.
Use in Class
As a class, we would watch the interview sections of “What is Macbeth” before reading selected scenes in the play. After reading the play aloud together, we might watch the scenes as they are enacted. I could also ask students about what they noticed about how characters behaved during the interviews. What personality traits and motivations do these interview scenes express about the characters? Finally, I might ask students to create short skits that used the same formats as the interview scenes. Their skirts would have interviewing newscasters speak with one or two characters from the play about their thoughts concerning one of the plot points
Submitted by Julia Katz