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Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance


This volume of entirely new essays provides innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to the various ways Shakespeare's Macbeth has been adapted and appropriated within the context of American racial constructions. Comprehensive in its scope, this collection addresses the enduringly fraught history of Macbeth in the United States, from its appearance as the first Shakespearean play documented in the American colonies to a proposed Hollywood film version with a black diasporic cast. Over two dozen contributions ...

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This volume of entirely new essays provides innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to the various ways Shakespeare's Macbeth has been adapted and appropriated within the context of American racial constructions. Comprehensive in its scope, this collection addresses the enduringly fraught history of Macbeth in the United States, from its appearance as the first Shakespearean play documented in the American colonies to a proposed Hollywood film version with a black diasporic cast. Over two dozen contributions explore Macbeth's haunting presence in American drama, poetry, film, music, history, politics, acting, and directing-all through the intersections of race and performance.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Timely . . . as with the best works of historical scholarship, Newstok and Thompson's collection merges detailed historiography with immediate relevancy, making this a valuable book indeed." - Dan Venning, Theatre History Studies

"There is something for everyone in this worthy volume." - CHOICE

"Remarkable." - Jonathan Gil Harris, Studies in English Literature

"Weyward Macbeth is an excellent companion piece for theatre educators looking to enrich classroom instruction or to further students' understanding of fully realized productions. Newstok and Thompson's diverse collection of provocative and enlightening articles serves as a valued addition to Shakespearean scholarship and as a complement to the study of Macbeth." - John Robert Moss, Theatre Topics

"A welcome addition to the scholarship on theatrical history and practice . . . most of the contributors do show the considerable charge that thinking differently, or highlighting and remembering race, can bring to the play . . . most of the authors at some point refer parenthetically to one or more of their fellow contributors, offering a sense of cogency, a wider arc of discussion, than many such collections manage." - Eric Mallin, College Literature

"In this remarkable and ground breaking book, the editors have put together essays that examine the text and spirit of Macbeth from different and, sometimes, startling perspectives." - The Griot: The Jourbanal of African American Studies

"This rich and provocative collection of essays is a compilation of historical, theoretical and interdisciplinary viewpoints on ways in which performances of Macbeth have engaged issues of race . . . Weyward Macbeth leaves a reader strangely unsettled—as, of course, does Macbeth. I closed the volume with a new sense of Macbeth's importance to issues of race in the United States, more acutely aware of the ferment and potential of engaging with this intersectional study, and yet also conscious of the still fragmented state of this aptly named 'weyward' pursuit . . . Many diverse perspectives are at work in this volume, and not always towards the same ends. But in the last analysis, that diversity seems utterly appropriate: the move here is not to establish a new orthodoxy but to break down received ideas about race and Shakespeare . . . Newstok and Thompson's volume corroborates that vision of multiple Shakespeares and multiple Shakespeareans, both within 'the confines of the script' and beyond it." - Nicholas Jones, Shakespeare Bulletin

"This collection undoubtedly demonstrates the intractable diversity of American readings of Macbeth over time . . . Weyward Macbeth goes a long way in making the effort to tell that difficult history." - Robert Ormsby, Modern Drama

"Weyward Macbeth deserves reading - and re-reading - because, contrary to popular belief, Orson Welles's famous 'Voodoo' Macbeth (1936) was far from unique in re-casting Shakespeare in a non-traditional setting. With over 100 cross-racial productions recorded here, you are bound to ask: why have so many Americans been repeatedly drawn to this particular play in the context of racial discourses? Read this penetrating study to find out - it's an intellectual delight." - James V. Hatch, Professor Emeritus, The Graduate Theatre Program at the City University of New York and co-author of A History of African American Theatre

"Weyward Macbeth is an interesting and deeply thought-provoking book, which is well set out, and ideal to dip into when a fresh perspective is required about Macbeth." - Jane Wright,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230616332
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 12/22/2009
  • Series: Signs of Race Series
  • Pages: 308
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Scott L. Newstok is Associate Professor of English at Rhodes College, USA. He has edited Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare and has published a study of the rhetoric of English epitaphs, Quoting Death in Early Modern England: The Poetics of Epitaphs Beyond the Tomb (Palgrave, 2009).

Ayanna Thompson is Professor of English at George Washington University, USA. She is the author of Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage; Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America; and the editor of Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance; as well as two special issues of the Shakespeare Bulletin and Borrowers and Lenders.

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Table of Contents

List of Figures xiii

Series Editors' Preface xv

Acknowledgments xvii

1 Beginnings

1 What Is a "Weyward" Macbeth? Ayanna Thompson 3

2 Weird Brothers: What Thomas Middleton's The Witch Can Tell Us about Race, Sex, and Gender in Macbeth Celia R. Daileader 11

2 Early American Intersections

3 "Blood Will Have Blood": Violence, Slavery, and Macbeth in the Antebellum American Imagination Heather S. Nathans 23

4 The Exorcism of Macbeth: Frederick Douglass's Appropriation of Shakespeare John C. Briggs 35

5 Ira Aldridge as Macbeth Bernth Lindfors 45

6 Minstrel Show Macbeth Joyce Green MacDonald 55

7 Reading Macbeth in Texts by and about African Americans, 1903-1944: Race and the Problematics of Allusive Identification Nick Moschovakis 65

3 Federal Theatre Project(s)

8 Before Welles: A 1935 Boston Production Lisa N. Simmons 79

9 Black Cast Conjures White Genius: Unraveling the Mystique of Orson Welles's "Voodoo" Macbeth Marguerite Rippy 83

10 After Welles: Re-do Voodoo Macbeths Scott L. Newstok 91

11 The Vo-Du Macbeth!: Travels and Travails of a Choreo-Drama Inspired by the FTP Production Lenwood Sloan 101

4 Further Stages

12 A Black Actor's Guide to the Scottish Play, or, Why Macbeth Matters Harry J. Lennix 113

13 Asian-American Theatre Reimagined: Shogun Macbeth in New York Alexander C. T. Huang 121

14 The Tlingit Play: Macbeth and Native Americanism Anita Maynard-Losh 127

15 A Post-Apocalyptic Macbeth: Teatro LA TEA's Macbeth 2029 José A. Esquea 133

16 Multicultural, Multilingual Macbeth William C. Carroll 137

5 Music

17 Reflections on Verdi, Macbeth, and Non-Traditional Casting in Opera WallaceMcClain Cheatham 145

18 Ellington's Dark Lady Douglas Lanier 151

19 Hip-Hop Macbeths, "Digitized Blackness," and the Millennial Minstrel: Illegal Culture Sharing in the Virtual Classroom Todd Landon Barnes 161

6 Screen

20 Riddling Whiteness, Riddling Certainty: Roman Polanski's Macbeth Francesca Royster 173

21 Semper Die: Marines Incarnadine in Nina Menkes's The Bloody Child: An Interior of Violence Courtney Lehmann 183

22 Shades of Shakespeare: Colorblind Casting and Interracial Couples in Macbeth in Manhattan, Grey's Anatomy, and Prison Macbeth Amy Scott-Douglass 193

7 Shakespearean (A)Versions

23 Three Weyward Sisters: African-American Female Poets Conjure with Macbeth Charita Gainey-O'Toole Elizabeth Alexander 205

24 "Black up again": Combating Macbeth in Contemporary African-American Plays Philip C. Kolin 211

25 Black Characters in Search of an Author: Black Plays on Black Performers of Shakespeare Peter Erickson 223


26 ObaMacbeth: National Transition as National Traumission Richard Burt 235


27 Selected Productions of Macbeth Featuring Non-Traditional Casting Brent Butgereit Scott L. Newstok 241

References 253

Notes on the Contributors and Editors 273

Index of Passages from Macbeth 279

Genaral Index 281

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