Intimate and Epic Macbeths in Contemporary Performance

Kathryn Prince

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


The recent performance history of Macbeth illustrates two tendencies discernible in contemporary Shakespeare performance more widely: the strong, empathic engagement characteristic of theatrical intimacy in the Aristotelian vein and the vast, distancing sweep of epic as theorized by Bertolt Brecht and, later, Walter Benjamin. By considering productions by Punchdrunk, Rift, John Tiffany and Andrew Goldberg, Kenneth Branagh and Rob Ashford, and Grzegorz Jarzyna, this chapter argues that epic theatre as proposed by Brecht and Benjamin is a marked feature of immersive productions, which combine the impression of intimacy with the distancing effect of the epic. Using Elinor Fuchs’s notion of landscape theatre, it concludes that in contemporary apolitical epic theatre, intimacy can be achieved outside Aristotelian catharsis or character and even beyond the notion of humanity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Performance
EditorsJames C. Bulman
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780199687169
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017


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