Peter Gill, playwright and theatre director
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Scotland, MacbethMacbeth

by Shakespeare

Stratford Festival Canada, Ontario, June 1971

About the play

Scotland is at war. Macbeth, the thane of Glamis, is at the head of the king's army, fighting the rebellious Macdonwald. At their moment of victory Macbeth's forces face a new attack: the King of Norway has mounted an invasion, supported from within Scotland by the thane of Cawdor.

On the day of the battle, three witches confer to decide when and where to meet Macbeth. They intercept him as he returns victorious from the battlefield with his fellow-general Banquo, greet him as thane of both Glamis and Cawdor, and prophesy that he will be king of Scotland. The crown, they add, will pass to Banquo's descendants.

A message arrives that the thane of Cawdor has been executed, and his title awarded to Macbeth. With the witches' prophecy partly confirmed, Macbeth's ambitions are drawn to the crown of Scotland; when later Duncan visits Macbeth's castle, Macbeth, urged on by his wife, stabs the king to death while he is asleep. Suspecting treachery, the heir, Malcolm, flees to England, while his brother Donalbain escapes to Ireland; for this reason the two boys are thought guilty of the murder, and Macbeth is crowned king.

Uneasy at the witches' promise to Banquo that his descendants will be kings, Macbeth plans the murder of Banquo and his son Fleance. The plot is only half successful: Banquo is killed, but Fleance escapes. That night, Banquo's ghost appears at a banquet in Macbeth's castle.

Macbeth, well aware of the hatred which surrounds him, and the plots which threaten his reign, rules the country by fear.

He re-visits the witches; in answer to his questions, they conjure apparitions who warn him to beware of Macduff, but assure him that no man born of woman can harm him, nor can he be defeated in battle until Birnam Wood moves towards Macbeth's castle on Dunsinane hill. Finally they confirm that Banquo's heirs will be kings. In England, Malcolm is received and welcomed by the king, Edward the Confessor. Here Macduff joins him. Suspecting Macduff to be a spy of Macbeth's, Malcolm treats him warily, and tests Macduff by making himself seem potentially a greater tyrant even than Macbeth. Reassured of Macduff's loyalty, he greets him warmly. News arrives from Scotland that Macduff's wife and children have been murdered by Macbeth. The expatriates determine to invade Scotland, overthrow Macbeth, and win the crown for Malcolm. Macduff vows to kill Macbeth himself.

Lady Macbeth walks in her sleep, haunted by images of the murders of Duncan, Banquo and Macduff's family. Later, she dies.

Once in Scotland, the invading army is joined by other Scottish thanes. Approaching Macbeth's stronghold, they camouflage themselves with branches plucked from Birnam Wood. Macbeth, told that the wood is apparently marching towards Dunsinane, remembers the witches' prophecy. Defeated in battle, he is confronted by Macduff; Macbeth has one hope left: the witches' promise that no man born of woman could harm him. Macduff reveals that he himself was delivered prematurely by Caesarian section. He kills Macbeth in battle, and decapitates him. Malcolm is crowned king.


There will be one interval of fifteen minutes.


Poor people, servants, messengers, soldiers, thanes, apparitions Chris Anstead
Colin Bernhardt
Theodore Britton
Trudy Cameron
J. Kenneth Campbell
Stanley Coles
Guiseppe Condello
Dan Conley
Bernerd Engel
Thom Hayes
Eric Hutt
Marc Jacobs
Jeff Jones
Joel Kenyon
David Low
Michael Liscinsky
Jack Roberts
Joseph Rutten
Brian Sinclair
Charles Sitler
Don Sutherland
Kirk Swanson
Brian Taylor
Joseph Totaro
Tim Whelan
The first witch Eric Donkin
The second witch Joyce Campion
The third witch Sheila Haney
Duncan Mervyn Blake
Malcolm Stephen Markle
Donalbain Guiseppe Condello
Lennox Malcolm Armstrong
Caithness Bernerd Engel
Menteith Don Sutherland
A bleeding sergeant Michael Liscinsky
Rosse Barry Macgregor
Angus J Kenneth Campbell
Macbeth Ian Hogg
Banquo Neil Dainard
Lady Macbeth Pat Galloway
A servant Theodore Britton
Macduff Kenneth Welsh
Fleance Thom Hayes
Seyton Stanley Coles
The porter Michael Liscinsky
An old man Tim Whelan
The first murderer Joel Kenyon
The second murderer Jack Roberts
A servant Mark Jacobs
The third murderer Jeff Jones
A serving woman Susan Chapple
Macduff's eldest son John Maclennan
Macduff's younger sons Chris Anstead
David King
Macduff's wife Karen Ludwig
A messenger Joseph Rutten
A doctor Wyman Pendleton
A waiting gentlewoman Ruby Holbrook
A messenger Brian Taylor
Seyward Joseph Rutten
Seyward's son Brian Sinclair
A messenger Jeff Jones
Directed by Peter Gill
Designed by Deirdre Clancy
Sound by Alan Laing
Lighting by Gil Wechsler
Fights devised by Patrick Crean
Assistant to the Director Nicholas Wright


Colin Bernhardt (Servant), Theodore Britton (Donalbain), Trudy Cameron (Witch, Serving Woman), J. Kenneth Campbell (Macduff), Susan Chapple (Two witches, Macduff's wife) Stanley Coles (Rosse), Giuseppe Condello (Seyward's son) Dan Conley (Angus), Bernerd Engel (Macbeth), Sheila Haney (Waiting gentlewoman), Thom Hayes (Malcolm), Eric Hutt (Servant), Marc Jacobs (Menteith, Seyton), Jeff Jones (Banquo), David King (Macduff's son, two apparitions), David Low (First murderer, a messenger), Michael Liscinsky (Seyward), Karen Ludwig (Lady Macbeth), Jack Roberts (The porter, a bleeding sergeant), Joseph Rutten (Duncan, an old man), Brian Sinclair (Lennox, second murderer), Charles Sitler (thanes), Brian Taylor (third murderer, Fleance), Joseph Totaro (Caithness, a messenger), Tim Whelan (a messenger, a doctor).


ALAN LAING, ROBERT COMBER, LORNE GROSSMAN, ROSEMARY COLLINS, ROBERT MARTIN performing an flute, whistles, tympani, conga drums, wood drums, harpsichord, autoharp, conch, bells, finger cymbals, tambourine, metal pipe rack.

Taped segments were recorded by ALAN LAING, assisted by CHRISTOPHER BOOT with technical assistance by RONALD PLACE and HERBERT CHISHOLM.

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