Newstok and Thompson

 

On their co-edited book Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance

Cover Interview of December 27, 2010

A close-up

So that we might learn what it means to remember one facet of our cultural legacy, we include in the book some two dozen concise essays addressing everything from Frederick Douglass’ allusions to the play, to hip-hop adaptations on YouTube, to Duke Ellington’s revisionary musical rendition, to multiracial prison productions.

In addition to chapters we submitted as co-editors, over two dozen contributors include: Celia R. Daileader, Heather S. Nathans, John C. Briggs, Bernth Lindfors, Joyce Green MacDonald, Nick Moschovakis, Lisa N. Simmons, Marguerite Rippy, Lenwood Sloan, Harry J. Lennix, Alexander C. Y. Huang, Anita Maynard-Losh, José A. Esquea, William C. Carroll, Wallace McClain Cheatham, Douglas Lanier,  Todd Landon Barnes, Francesca Royster, Courtney Lehmann, Amy Scott-Douglass, Charita Gainey-O’Toole, Elizabeth Alexander, Philip C. Kolin, Peter Erickson, Richard Burt, and Brent Butgereit.

As the collection is designed to combat the historical amnesia about this play’s weyward history within dialogues about race, we also include an appendix of non-traditionally cast productions.  Although it is impossible to catalogue every performance (even if one focuses primarily on professional productions in the United States), the 100 productions featured in this appendix reveal how often producers, directors, actors, and reviewers imagine themselves working in a vacuum.

Documenting the frequency of these productions and analyzing the adaptations, appropriations, and allusions, Weyward Macbeth positions the “Scottish Play” in the center of American racial constructions.  Shakespeareans alone could not tell this eclectic story: we needed Americanists, filmmakers, musicians, musicologists, actors, directors, and artists to tell a tale that signifies something about Macbeth, race, and the American imagination from as many viewpoints as possible.