From Acclaim to Arcane: Ducis’s Adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth

Presentation with Amy Drake (USA)

Amy Drake is a director, playwright and actor. She has appeared in Actors’ Theatre productions of Oedipus Rex, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Amadeus and Dark of the Moon. She is a member of the Board of Actors’ Theatre, Theatre Roundtable and the Theater Communications Group (NY). Amy received a Silver Quill Award of Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicator. She holds a B.A. from Ohio Dominican University and she is studying theater at The Ohio State University. Her education includes programs in creative writing and history at Cambridge University, and graduate studies in French literature at Reed Hall, Paris. 


Format of Presentation: this presentation will be in the form of a lecture, with photographs from the play, and a brief reading from the play. 

French playwright Jean-François Ducis revised Shakespeare’s Macbeth in order to make it more accessible to a late eighteenth-century French audience. Ducis’s approach to staging Shakespearean works was unique and highly imaginative, as Ducis did not read English or speak the language. His work was a fantastical retelling of the Macbeth story, molded to suit the expectations of traditional French theater. In April, I will be staging a production of Ducis’s Macbeth, accompanied by a pre-performance lecture and post-performance question-and-answer session. In doing so, I will be presenting a traditional seventeenth century play to a contemporary audience. In this paper I will report my findings on how contemporary audiences reacted to the work, and techniques I employed to facilitate an appreciation of the play. 

Ducis’s Macbeth is of historical significance because it was written prior to the French Revolution and staged immediately following the Revolution. Therefore; I will look for reflections of the Revolution and French societal changes included in Ducis’s version of Macbeth. I will explore the possibility that Ducis made changes to the script to reflect public sentiment as the Revolution progressed, and consider whether the outcome of the Revolution affected the final version of Ducis’s production. I will explore Ducis’s theatrical success by examining his original script, published in 1790, and reaction to this work by audiences and critics, juxtaposed with contemporary criticism of the play.

Organized by IUGTE in collaboration with "ArtUniverse"