Macbeth by Shakespeare – Act 1

Characters:

  • Duncan, King of Scotland
  • Malcolm, Ducan’s son
  • Donalbain, Duncan’s son
  • Macbeth, General of the King’s Army
  • Banquo, General of the King’s Army
  • Macduff, Noble of Scotland
  • Lennox, Noble of Scotland
  • Ross, Noble of Scotland
  • Menteith, Noble of Scotland
  • Angus, Noble of Scotland
  • Caithness, Noble of Scotland
  • Fleance, Banquo’s son
  • Siward, Earl of Northumberland & General of the English Forces
  • Young Siward, Siward’s son
  • Seton, officer attending Macbeth
  • Boy, Macduff’s son
  • English doctor
  • Scottish doctor
  • Sergeant
  • Porter
  • Lady Macbeth
  • Lady Macduff
  • Gentlewomen attending Lady Macbeth
  • Hecate
  • 3 Witches
  • Lords
  • Gentlemen
  • Officers
  • Soldiers
  • Murderers
  • Attendants
  • Messengers
  • Banquo’s Ghost
  • Other apparitions

 

Scene 1 – a desert place. Thunder & lightning. [ENTER 3 WITCHES]

Witch 1: When will we meet up again? In thunder, lightning or rain?

Witch 2: When the noise is gone & the fighting is over?

Witch 3: That’ll be at sundown.

Witch 1: Where?

Witch 2: On the heath.

Witch 3: To meet with Macbeth.

Witch 1: I’ll be home, Graymalkin, kitty.

Witch 2: My toad’s calling me.

Witch 3: Soon…

All 3: When good is bad, & bad is good. Let’s hover through the fog & dirty air.


 

Scene 2 – a camp near Forres. [CALL TO ARMS FROM OFFSTAGE] [ENTER DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, ATTENDANTS & BLEEDING SERGEANT]

 

Duncan: Who’s that injured man? Maybe he can give us some news.

Malcolm: This sergeant fought hard against my captivity… Hey, buddy, tell us what was going on when you left the battle.

Sergeant: It was going back & forth – a real stalemate. The evil & merciless Macdonwald had soldiers brought in from the Hebrides, But luck is a fickle lady… Brave Macbeth attacked & cut right through the enemy until he got to Macdonwald. He didn’t leave until he sliced that villain up & put his head on our castle walls.

Duncan: Oh, my. What a guy!

Sergeant: It was like the sun was shining & then a storm rolled in. That’s how quickly the battle turned. Just as we thought things were going our way, they turned they other. King, no sooner had things turned for us than the Norwegian saw the opportunity to start a new assault with new arms & new men.

Duncan: Didn’t that cause stress to Macbeth & Banquo?

Sergeant: Yes, just wild animals [IRONICALLY]… No, in reality, they came out roaring like double charged cannons exploding on the enemy wreaking havoc on them. I can’t say anymore. I need tending to.

Duncan: Your words & wounds are honorable. Go get him a doctor. [EXIT SERGEANT, ATTENDED] Who’s that? [ENTER ROSS]

Malcolm: It’s the Thane of Ross!

Lennox: Look at him. He’s seen something.

Ross: God save the King!

Duncan: Where are you coming from, Thane?

Ross: From Fife, king, where the Norwegian flags are flying & causing the people to panic. He has come with great numbers, aided by the traitor, the Thane of Cawdor. He started a terrible fight until Macbeth showed up to fight him & eventually got us the win.

Duncan: Very nice!

Ross: Now the Norwegian wants a truce but we won’t stop to let him bury his men until he leaves St. Colm’s Inch & gives us $10000.

Duncan: At the very least. Go present Macbeth with his title.

Ross: Absolutely.

Duncan: That Macbeth is something else. [ALL LEAVE]


Scene 3 – A heath. Thunder. [ENTER 3 WITCHES]

Witch 1: Where have you been?

Witch 2: Killing swine.

Witch 3: What about you?

Witch 1: A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap & was eating them. I asked for some & she told me to piss off. Now her husband’s headed off to the Middle East in a ship. I’ll take control of that ship.

Witch 2: I bet you will.

Witch 3: It doesn’t look good for him.

Witch 1: I’ll control all the winds & ports, & directions of the compass. He won’t sleep. While I can’t sink the ship, I can send it to places he’ll never come back from. Look what I’ve got.

Witch 2: Show me.

Witch 1: It’s a pilot’s thumb from when he was shipwrecked… [DRUM SOUNDS]

Witch 3: A drum! Macbeth is on his way!

All 3: Weird sisters, hand in hand, speedy travelers of the land & sea. We’ll go about… 3 times to you, 3 times to mine, & 3 more make 9… Shush! The spell’s beginning to work! [ENTER MACBETH & BANQUO]

Macbeth: I’ve never see a day so wonderful & terrible at the same time.

Banquo: How far to Forres?… Who the hell are they? They barely look like people… You, there. You seem to understand me. You’ve got your cracked fingers on your lips. You look like you’re supposed to be women but hardly to my standards.

Macbeth: Speak if you can… What are you?

Witch 1: Hail, Macbeth, Thane of Glamis!

Witch 2: Hail, Macbeth, Thane of Cawdor!

Witch 3: Hail, Macbeth, future King of Scotland!

Banquo: Macbeth, what’s got into you? You seem spooked by things that sound good to me… Are you all visions or real? You seem to predict noble things for my friend here & he seems taken aback. You’re not saying anything like that to me. But if you can look into the future & see what will happen & what won’t, tell me something about myself.

All 3: Hail!

Witch 1: Lesser than Macbeth & yet greater.

Witch 2: Not as happy as Macbeth & yet happier.

Witch 3: You’ll have kings but will not be one.

Witch 1: Banquo & Macbeth, hail!

Macbeth: You all, tell me more. I know I am Glamis by my father’s death. But Cawdor is still alive… & King?! I can’t believe that. Where did you learn of all this? Why have you stopped us here to tell us all this? [WITCHES DISAPPEAR]

Banquo: They just floated away. Where did they go?

Macbeth: Should we say something about this? They’d think we’ve lost our minds… Your children will be kings?

Banquo: & you will be one, yourself.

Macbeth: & Thane of Cawdor.

Banquo: Something like that… Who’s there? [ENTER ROSS & ANGUS]

Ross: The King has heard of your success, Macbeth. & When he heard of what you did to the rebels, his praises for you will never end. He’ll see that your fighting has hacked the Norwegians to bits & you are afraid of nothing. Everyone who saw it told him.

Angus: We’ve been sent to give the King’s thanks & bring you back to him.

Ross: Furthermore, he told me to call you, ‘Thane of Cawdor” – a most worthy title for you.

Banquo: Could this be true?

Macbeth: But Cawdor is still alive. Why do you call me by someone else’s name?

Angus: Yes, he is still alive  but he deserves to die. He has betrayed his country & treason is cause enough for him to surrender that title to you.

Macbeth: [ASIDE] Glamis & Cawdor? Wow!… [TO ROSS & ANGUS] Thank you for all your support. [TO BANQUO] Don’t you hope your children will be kings? The Thane of Cawdor is mine. Remember what was just said to us.

Banquo: [TO MACBETH] That might get you to the crown, beyond Cawdor. Isn’t it strange? The evil spirits tell us the truth to do us harm & screw us in the end. [TO ROSS & ANGUS] Cousins, a word with you…

Macbeth: [ASIDE] 2 truths are told, only to lead to a higher role for me. This supernatural fortune telling can’t be good or bad. If it’s bad, why would it give me success? I’m now Thane of Cawdor. If it’s good, why does that statement make my hair stand on end? The fears of battle are less than what my mind is conjuring up. My mind is clouded with the idea of murder which frightens me.

Banquo: Look, our buddy is stunned.

Macbeth: [ASIDE] If will luck will make me king, why make me bothered about it?

Banquo: He’s got new honors but he’ll get used to them in time.

Macbeth: [ASIDE] Whatever will happen will happen. Time passes on, even in the hardest of circumstances.

Banquo: Macbeth, we’re waiting for you.

Macbeth: Sorry, my mind’s been elsewhere lately. Gentlemen, thank you very much. Let’s go see the King. [TO BANQUO] Think about what’s just happened & we will talk about it later.

Banquo: Sure thing.

Macbeth: Right, Let’s got! [ALL LEAVE]


Scene 4 – Forres, in a room in the Palace. [ENTER DUNCAN, MALCOM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX & ATTENDANTS]

Duncan: Has Cawdor been executed yet? Aren’t those in charge of it back yet?

Malcolm: Not yet, sir. But I did speak with someone who saw it & he said that he confessed to treason & begged for a pardon. He looked so lowly begging for his life but contrast that with him having thrown away everything he had.

Duncan: You can’t tell who a man is by his face. I trusted him very much.. [ENTER MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS & ANGUS] Dear cousin, Macbeth. You seem just as you were before my reward for you. If you deserved less, my inadequate payment would have been in proportion to your acts.

Macbeth: The service & loyalty I owe is enough. Your role is to receive our duties which are to the throne, the state, your children & your servants. All in your honor.

Duncan: I’ve planted you & will do the best to make you grow. Banquo, you deserve the same praise. Come here, buddy.

Banquo: If I grew, the harvest is yours.

Duncan: My joys are hidden in drops of sorrow. Everyone, you’ll be glad to know that I’ll be naming my eldest son, Malcolm as my heir & Prince of Cumberland. Other honors will be given for nobles & those who deserve them. Let’s go back to Inverness.

Macbeth: I’ll go on ahead of you to make the place up. My wife will be glad to hear of your arrival. If you don’t mind my leaving.

Duncan: Not at all, Thane of Cawdor.

Macbeth: [ASIDE] Prince of Cumberland. I’ll either have to unseat him or jump over him, since he’s in my way. I’ll have to plan in secret. [LEAVES]

Duncan: Banquo, Macbeth is so valiant. His words are like food to me. Let’s catch up with him. [ALL LEAVE]


Scene 5 – Inverness, Macbeth’s castle. [ENTER LADY MACBETH READING A LETTER]

Lady Macbeth: [READING] “… They met me in our day of victory. They know more than mortals do. I asked for more information but they vanished into thin air. I was wondering what to make of it when the king’s men found me & addressed me as ‘Thane of Cawdor’, just as the witches had done. The witches also addressed me as ‘Future King of Scotland’. I thought you might like that bit of news. See you soon, M.” [TO SELF] Glamis & Cawdor. More has been promised too. But I know what you’re like. Too kind & gentle. You can be great, skilled without ambition & without being ruthless. You will get it if you would do the thing you fear to do more than having it being undone. Come home quickly so I can guide & encourage you to do what you’ve been fated to do. [ENTER MESSENGER] What is it?

Messenger: The king’s staying here tonight.

Lady Macbeth: No. Isn’t your master with him? Wouldn’t he be informing us himself?

Messenger: It’s true. Macbeth will be coming too. One of the other messengers has come on ahead of him & rushed this message to you. See to him. He brings great news. [LEAVES]

Lady Macbeth: The raven foretelling Duncan’s impending doom is croaking itself hoarse. Come on you spirits who conjure up murderous thoughts. Stop making me feel compassion & fill me with cruelty. Let me feel no remorse. Let nothing shake my purpose or interfere with the act. Make me a ruthless murderer. Night will have to fall to make this happen. [ENTER MACBETH] Great Glamis & Cawdor, & even greater later. I got your letters & I’m ready for our future right now.

Macbeth: Duncan is coming here tonight.

Lady Macbeth: When does he leave?

Macbeth: Tomorrow.

Lady Macbeth: He’ll never see the light of day again. Your face can be read by others. So to fool them, you’ll have to look happy to see the king. But underneath, you must be cruel & cold. Leave the hard part to me & the rest of our days will be as royals.

Macbeth: We’ll talk about it later.

Lady Macbeth: Keep an innocent face & leave the rest to me. [BOTH LEAVE]


Scene 6 – Inverness. In front of Macbeth’s castle. [ENTER DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, BANQUO, LENNOX, MACDUFF, ROSS, ANGUS & ATTENDANTS]

Duncan: Nice location for this castle. The air is sweet & pleasant.

Banquo: That bird there seems to agree with you. There’s no obvious place to put a nest here to start a family. But they breed where the air is delicate. [ENTER LADY MACBETH]

Duncan: Here’s our hostess. The love I am shown can often be a bit much but I still appreciate it.

Lady Macbeth: We haven’t done enough. You’re doing us a great honor by staying with us. We are your grateful servants.

Duncan: Where’s Macbeth? He took off so quickly. We wanted to ride along with him but he’s so fast. & now his wife is the one to greet us as guests.

Lady Macbeth: My husband & I offer you our home as your own.

Duncan: Let me see Macbeth. I love that guy. Lead the way. [THEY ALL LEAVE]


Scene 7 – A room in Macbeth’s castle. [ENTER SERVANTS SETTING UP, THEN ENTER MACBETH]

Macbeth: If it was just one death, I could do it & it’d be over. If there were no consequences of an assassination, then it’d be a success. But killing the king might have repercussions that I might not be able to deal with. But in this case, the death wouldn’t be the end of the matter & it will bring more trouble with it, bringing me the same fate as my victim. He’s here in 2 forms of trust. 1, I’m his kinsman & subject. 2, Duncan has been so kind that all his virtues scream out to me to spare him. The whole country will mourn his death. I’m not really sure if I’m ready for or want what’s to come… [LADY MACBETH ENTERS] Hey, what’s going on?

Lady Macbeth: He’s almost finished eating. Why did you leave the room?

Macbeth: Has he asked for me?

Lady Macbeth: Of course he has.

Macbeth: I can’t go through with it. He’s given me honors & people have praised me to the sky. I’m not going to ruin all that.

Lady Macbeth: What about your royal aspirations? All gone? You look weak to me. Are you afraid to do what it takes to get what you want? Are you happy to forgo it & stay a coward forever?

Macbeth: Quiet! I only dare to do what is good in a man. Those who dare to go further are not men.

Lady Macbeth: Then who was it who told me of the whole plan? You were a man then & to be more than what you are now is being even more so. The time & the place didn’t matter just 2 scenes ago. & now that the time is right, you simply crumble… I’ve nursed babies & I know what the tender love of a child is like. I would’ve killed the child right then & there if I knew you’d do this.

Macbeth: What if we fail?

Lady Macbeth: Then we fail… But if you give it your all, we won’t fail. When Duncan is asleep – he looks exhausted – I’ll ply his officers away with enough booze to knock them out. Seeing as they will have blacked out, people will assume they committed the murder.

Macbeth: I hope you only have boys. That spirit is only fitting for men. Are you sure the guards will be blamed?

Lady Macbeth: How else will people see it? We’ll cry, showing our innocence.

Macbeth: OK, let’s do it. But first we’ll have to put on a brave face & a good show. [BOTH LEAVE]

 

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