Newstok and Thompson


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

Cover Interview of December 26, 2010


Macbeth’s insistent language of blood and staining seeps into American racial rhetoric.  Macbeth focuses on the indelible quality of blood, that smelling substance that Lady Macbeth can’t fully wash from her hands.

This unnervingly coincides with early American debates about the nature—the essence—of race.  On the one hand (excuse the pun), the proponents of slavery (and later segregation) insist that the blood is the thing: the essential, internal substance that marks races, even down to a single drop.  On the other hand, many opponents of slavery (and later segregation) quote passages about blood from Macbeth in their protest speeches: the external mark that stains America’s formation and history.

We feel that the very weyward qualities—in all of their myriad complexities—of Shakespeare’s playtext, its performance history, and the critical scholarship must be brought into focus so that our desires for progressive acts are not disabled before they even begin. A conscious remembering, revisioning, and restaging is the true first step to change and progress.

© 2010 Scott L. Newstok and Ayanna Thompson