First Known Performance of Macbeth

BOOK SURREY HOTELS

First Known Performance of Macbeth

Hampton Court, Surrey The 7th of August 1606 AD

Shakespeare was a great playwright, but he also had an eye to the main chance. During the reign of Elizabeth I certain history plays flattered the Tudors – it’s partly thanks to him we have our traditional view of Richard III as evil and malformed for example. When Elizabeth was succeeded on the English throne by James I in 1603 a new royal house meant new opportunities - and dangers.
Soon the Bard of Avon had written Macbeth , in which James’ supposed Stuart ancestor Banquo is portrayed rather sympathetically; the new monarch’s fascination with witchcraft (he published a book on the subject) also pandered to in the inclusion of the three witches. A third aspect of the piece may likewise indicate it was customised for James – it is one of Shakespeare’s shorter plays, the king known to have no appetite for longer dramas.
The first known performance was on August 7 1606 for James and his guest at Hampton Court , his brother-in-law King Christian IV of Denmark. Staged in the Great Hall there it must have been a particularly nervy airing for the play, a situation exacerbated by the sudden illness of boy-actor Hal Berridge, due to play Lady Macbeth. Legend has it Shakespeare had to fill that role himself. The subsequent death of Berridge is one of many tragic events linked with the piece that have led to the idea it is cursed: actors refuse to even name it other than when reciting lines, using such euphemisms as The Scottish Play instead.

More famous dates here

14140 views since 5th August 2010

Brit Quote:
Ours is an excessively conscious age. We know so much, we feel so little. - D H Lawrence
More Quotes

On this day:
Canterbury Monks Observe Massive Meteor Event - 1178, Battle of Sevenoaks - 1450, 1st British Life Insurance Policy - 1583, Battle of Chalgrove Field - 1643, Johnson Contracts to Produce His Dictionary - 1746, Battle of Waterloo - 1815, Redcoats Drop Breeches - 1823, Staines Air Disaster - 1972, Battle of Orgreave - 1984
More dates from British history

click here to view all the British counties

County Pages