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Production description

Described as “a disturbing reflexion on power”, the Brazilian stage  production of Macbeth toured many cities in Brazil in 1992 and became a commercial success despite the negative reviews.  Part of its sucess can be attributed to the popularity of the two TV stars that interpreted the protagonist couple: Antonio Fagundes, also the producer, and Vera Fischer. But certainly the political undertones of Shakespeare’s text found particular resonance in the grim scenario of 1992 Brazil. Immersed in escalating violence and soaring inflation, the country struggled against the corrupt presidency of Fernado Collor de Melo who made history by becoming the first popularly elected Latin American president to be impeached. Hence, one of the intentions of the play was to ignite popular pressure as Fagundes’ words in the program make explicit:

 

Nothing new under the sun: absolute power corrupts absolutely. Are all these murders a rhetorical figure? In a way aren’t we all dead by recognizing our citizenship going to the gutter? Or by the indifference making us literally swim in it—in this open sewer which Brazilian society has become? Is it a rhetorical figure that three children are murdered every day? How about hunger? Unemployment? Sickness? Corruption? We only have the consolation that power changes hands here without spilling blood (their blood, at least, is not spilt). […] We live Shakespearean days. As in Shakespeare, the people are practically absent from our history, the power to govern is decided by a dagger, by a pen, determined by a consensus between the elites, maybe due to hidden forces. As in Shakespeare, the people watch impassively the clash of titans that take turns to govern. These people who are always suffering, always full of hope, always fooled. […] In reality, England did not have at the time [when the play was staged for James I] so many problems as we do today. The staging of this production of Macbeth intends to achieve something similar to Shakespeare’s victory: to awaken the public. (translated by Aguero)

 

With respect to Cruz’s reworkings of Shakespeare’s text, even though the plotline remains largely faithful to its source, there were some major alterations. Cruz accords the Porter an extended role: he not only incorporates different characters but also functions as a chorus figure. In yet another bold move which culturally  locates the play in Brazil, the witches are substituted by  three teenage native Brazilian boys who wear thongs and have tribal motifs painted in their bodies. A possible allusion to the passivity of the people that Fagundes mentions above, the witches/boys have no lines and only emit wild guttural sounds. Although not lavish, it is a careful production with ingenious ideas. For instance, in many scenes the set consisted of a large beige cloth which was used for different purposes. In one of the monologues, Fagundes drags it along the stage and forms a map of Brazil. The same cloth serves as Macbeth’s crown or as a tent.

Director: Ulysses Cruz

Producer: Antonio Fagundes

Translator: Walderez Cardoso Gomes

Musical Director: Fábio Cintra

Coreographer: Deborah Colker

 Cast
Antonio Fagundes
Vera Fischer
Stênio Garcia
Paulo Goulart

 

Click here to read  a Brazilian dissertation (written in English) which analyses different productions of Macbeth, including Ulysses Cruz’s production in chapter 5.

Click here to learn about Ulysses Cruz’s theatre company Globe-SP.

Production notes provided by Cristiane Busato Smith

Comments (5):

  1. Victoria Hartman says:

    It’s very odd to watch a movie in a different language and I hope that once I read Macbeth, I will be able to better grasp what’s happening in this scene.

  2. Gabriela says:

    The clip is very real, unlike the others where it plays more like a movie than a play. Personally, I like to see the stage and hear the voices echo but the movements are beautiful and the costumes make it much more interesting!

  3. rebeca queluz says:

    The link to the video of Macbeth by Ulisses Cruz is not working. Could you please check? i very much want to see this production. thanks

    • Belinda Yung says:

      Hi Rebeca, thank you for your interest in this Macbeth production and for reporting the video playback issue. Please try viewing the performance again and let us know if it is not working for you.

      • Rebeca Queluz says:

        Thank you! It plays perfectly now.

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    Macbeth

    Type:
    stage
    Year:
    Director:
    Cruz, Ulysses | Productions
    Play:
    Language:
    Venue:
     
    São Paulo,Brazil

    Full video

    Note: This is the full video

    Duration: 01:33:38

    witches scene

    Note: with English subtitles (turn on closed captions in YouTube video player)

    crowning of Macbeth

    Note: with English subtitles (turn on closed captions in YouTube video player)

    Banquo's ghost

    Note: with English subtitles (turn on closed captions in YouTube video player)

    Macbeth's tomorrow soliloquy

    Note: with English subtitles (turn on closed captions in YouTube video player)