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July 14 2024


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Stewart On Macbeth And Stalin

By T'Bonz
February 13, 2008 - 9:13 PM

Patrick Stewart found parallels between the mind of Macbeth and the mind of Joseph Stalin that helped him to play the title character in Macbeth.

As reported at Theatermania, Stewart found that doing his homework paid off when it came to understanding the murderous machinations of an individual's mind.

Director Rupert Goold's production of Macbeth is set in Stalinist Russia, as reported here. To get a better understanding of Stalin, Stewart went to work studying the former dictator who was responsible for the murder of millions of his own people. "I bought every book I could find that had anything to do with Joseph Stalin," said Stewart. "It was a pile about this big. I only read one of them, which was the thinnest, slimmest, little volume. That wasn't out of idleness, although we were under a certain amount of time pressure, but because I was intrigued to find out that Martin Amis, who is a writer that I admire immensely, had written a book about Stalin."

Stewart went on to explain why the book was so compelling. "I'd never heard of it, so I began to read it and found that on almost every page it was directly affecting the way that Rupert and his design team had conceptualized this play. It helped me to understand something about the monster that at times was Joseph Stalin and the monster that a lot of the time Macbeth was. It was not so much a historical document, but an examination of the murderous machinations of an individual's mind. I would come in each morning bringing these tales of the next horrible thing that I'd learned that Stalin had done and sometimes we would try to introduce them into the production."

Stewart is proud of having introduced some Star Trek fans to classical live theater. "...People I meet at the stage door or write to me often say, 'We came to see this to see Captain Picard. I've never seen a Shakespeare play in my life or I've never been in a theater in my life before, and I loved it and I can't wait to come see it again.' It's so deep and satisfying to find that people are being converted from watching science fiction television to not just live theater, but classical live theater. I sometimes feel that I have been single-handedly responsible for creating a certain percentage of new audience members, and that's a good thing."

To read the full article, head here.

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