This part of the site is intended to help you with your understanding of Macbeth and our version of it but it is also a little bit more than that. We are a living, breathing theatre company working to bring shows to life. To that end we will also focus on our process in the hope that we inspre you as theatre makers of the future. This will help those of you studying Macbeth but also those of you that tackle the devising process. We hope you enjoy it and thank you for taking the time to explore the world of Candlelit Macbeth with us. 

Bart Lee

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Is Macbeth a hero?

Ben, my very good friend who plays Macbeth for us, is always trying to convince me that Macbeth isn't all bad. I listen to him, I understand his point of view, but then I think about the characters actions and these far out way his words. Macbeth is a bastard.

Is it all Macbeth's fault?

Now that is a better question in my opinion. Ben, becuase he plays Macbeth, sees him as a person. Ben feels Macbeth's worry, his doubt and experiences his nerves, his racing heartbeat, his each and every breath for every second of the play. Macbeth is definitely coerced by his wife into the act of murder. Macbeth is definitely given a phrophecy that he doesn't ask for by the three Witches. So therefore, Macbeth is  in no doubt manipulated by others.

Then there's Shakespeare. Shakespeare created Macbeth to be a dramatic device. Much as the Greeks gave us Oedipus, Antigone, Medea (among many others) to learn from. Shakespeare gives us Macbeth. Shakespeare gives Macbeth actions and he gives him poetry,  philosophy, and presents a man of his time driven by human emotions pushed to extreme limits.

It may not start as Macbeth's fault, but bit by bit he takes full responsibility for his actions and he follows his path to the bitter end. He is a soldier, and just as The King of Scotland uses him to win wars in the first place (labeliing him a hero for fighting and murdering) Macbeth continues true to form in pursuit of his own ambitions. Like Oedipus he has hubris and Shakespeare uses that as a dramatic device. He also gives him a soul and some fantastic poetry.


Patsy, our designer, like many theatre folk, has studied Macbeth in depth. It's always hard when you take on a Shakespeare play because they are well known and well performed, and almost everything has been done before. Patsy has always found the Witches fascinating. In the time of James I witches were persecuted and killed for being different. Shakespeare was writing for James I and there is no doubt in the play that the Witches in Macbeth are written as spell casting hags, withered and warped.

As director for the production I could imagine a way to tell our play from a good discussion that Patsy and I had about the Witches. As a writer all I had to do was find some way to make it work without ruining quite a famous, well known and well performed play. The three Witches are just that in the script. First Witch, second Witch, third Witch. Famously referred to as the "Wierd Sisters". Yet there is a fourth. HECATE. She has a brilliant speech in which she admonishes the Wierd Sisters for their actions.  So if HECATE (The boss witch) has a name it stands to reason that the others can too. We chose DESPOINA (which means Lady) ERIS (Chaos) and BRIMO (the Angry One / Mistress of the Mighty Dead).

For our production we have imagined that ; The Witches are out for revenge because their kind are being killed by the Christian Kings, and Duncan is a sympathiser with England. The Witches are Pagans and they posess a Pagan champion. Macbeth. They set him on a course of murder, greed and jealousy. They are shape shifters and they posess / take over / become all of the characters that Macbeth meets on his journey in order to keep influencing him. Having said this Macbeth has to choose the path and there are moments in which he wavers. This infuriates the Witches. Macbeth in his turn uses the Witches for his selfish ambitions. Chaos reigns.

Costume concepts below by Patsy Fraser

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Macbeth questions from Q&A Session with The Marist School yrs 9,10,11,12 

1. As actors, who do you think influenced Macbeth the most? Lady Macbeth, the witches, or his own ambition?

2. Do you agree it’s ok performing a play about such deceptive, murderous characters to schoolchildren because their actions have serious consequences?

3. Do you prefer performing tragedies or comedies & why?
4. What are your favourite Shakespeare plays to perform?

5. Are the messages conveyed in Macbeth at all relevant for audiences today?
6. Should we have sympathy for Macbeth?
7. Do you think Lady Macbeth is more evil than Macbeth?

8. Do you think the murder of King Duncan should be onstage or offstage?
9. Should Duncan be a more interesting or developed character?

10. Do you think we can have any sympathy for Macbeth?
11. What is the worst act Macbeth commits?


Working on the Witches Movement

We wanted to use movement to bring the witches to life. We were inspired by the fact that there are three witches and we thought of the idea of a HYDRA, a mythological three headed snake to start the ball rolling. We discussed the "levels of tension" for these characters and  decided through workshops on the following;


1) Resting (but dangerous never still)

2) Alert (level 1,2,3)

3) Travelling (any direction)

4) Apart

5) Together

6) Spawning

7) Dangerous 


We decided that the Witches are all complicit in their actions. Although each head is different, the body knows what each one is doing at all times. These levels gave us a "quality of movement"  and strong imagery to use when adding the text and blocking the scenes.


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EXERCISE : Choose three witches names from the list below, think of an animal to base your improvisation on. See if you can come up with three levels of tension that are as different as possible. Workshop / improvise / play with each level to hone your creative choices. EXTENSION - See if you can create seven levels of tension for your witches.

Abnukta (She of The Night, also one of the names of Lilith)

Agriope (Savage Face)

Aidônaia (Lady of The Underworld)

Anassa eneroi (Queen of Those Below)

Antaia (The One in Front)

Antania (Enemy of Mankind)

Aphrattos (The Nameless One/The Unnameable One)

Atalos (Tender/Delicate)

Brimo (Angry One/Chthonian Mistress of The Mighty Dead)

Dadophoros (Torch bearer)

Despoina (Lady)

Enodia (Of The Roads)

Epiphanestate Thea (Most Manifest Goddess)

Hekate (She Who Works Her Will/The From-a-far Powerful One/The One who Stands Aloof)

Khthonia (Mistress of The Underworld)

Kleidophoros (Key Bearer)

Kleidouchos (Keeper of The Keys)

Koure mounogenes (Only Begotten Maiden)

Kourotrophe (Nurse of the Young)

Krataiis/Crataeis (Strong One)

Kurotrophos (Protector of Children)

Liparokrêdemnos (Bright-coiffed, with Bright Headband)

Lykania (She-Wolf/Mother of Werewolves)

Megiste (Greatest)

Monogenes (Only Child)

Nocticula (Moon Mistress)

Nyktipolos (Night Wandering)

Pandeina (The All Terrible/The One Feared by All)

Perseis (Daughter of Perses Destroyer)

Phosphoro (The Light-Bringer)

Propolos (Guide/She Who Shows The Path)

Propylaia (The Guardian)

Skylakagetis (Leader of the Dogs/Mistress of Hellhounds)

Soteira (Savior)

Trevia (Of Three Ways/Goddess of Crossroads)

Tricephalus/Tricephalos (Three- Headed)

Trimorphis (Three Formed, Three Bodied)

Trioditis (Of The Crossroads)

Zerynthia (Lady of Mt. Zerynthos)


Going back to Macbeth


Working on the Witches was a lot of fun but we had to go back to the text to tell our tale. We worked the story into the following framework for our production and we are pretty sure Shakespeare would  have loved it!

The witches are out for revenge because their kind are being hunted and killed by the new kings (Christian kings not Pagan).They possess a champion with a pilots thumb - Macbeth - and set him on a course of murder, greed and blood lust against the Christians. They possess people in his life including his wife to carve the path but he still has to choose. And choose he does. 

Guilty at arranging the death of his friend Banquo he is scared when he sees his ghost. He returns to the Witches who undertake a heathen ritual, marking his body with runes and whipping the cowardice from him (a bit like the Christians trying to beat the evil out of witches a reversing of roles). The ritual works and Macbeth goes on to fight but looses everything in the process.


At the end Macduff kills him and claims his soul by putting his head on the cross of the Christian Kings. The witches loose and slither off into the darkness to claim another soul . . .


Marketing Candlelit Macbeth

It is always very important to be able to pitch your work effectively. Yes you need to have strong creative intentions but you need to be able to communicate these succintly. We decided to create a poem that summed up our production of Macbeth. We thought that this would be an effective way to capture peoples artistic interest as well as showcase our intentions for the production. We backed this up with a short paragraph of "Copy". This is designed to sell your production to your target audience. In this case students studying the play, Shakespeare fans and drama audiences.

EXERCISE : Read our poem and copy below. Can you create something for similar for your next production? Perhaps you are putting on a comedy, how would this differ and yet what transferable skills can you use to inspire you and focus your objectives?

In the darkness something stirs


Witches gather and spin their words

Soundscapes clatter

Screams are heard

Whispers of murder

Lurk in the shade



Love betrayed


Something wicked this way comes” set in the 11th century and faithful to Shakespeares text this retelling centres on the witches and their thirst for revenge. They choose a champion to challenge the Christian kings and Macbeth answers the call. Is this a dagger I see before me” Murder, poetry and sword fighting combine as the tale unfolds using candle light to ignite the imagination and chill the soul. Things are about to get very dark indeed. Macbeth is brought to life by this talented and enthralling story-telling company, igniting the imagination with poetry, sound-scapes, shadows and movement. Faithful to the text and famous Shakespeare characters. Suitable for those studying the play at GCSE as well as lovers of the Bard. NOT TO BE MISSED.


Candlelit Macbeth Creatives

Ann Ogden, movement director, graduate of The Dance School of Scotland and London Studio Centre. Trained in classical ballet, contemporary dance and pilates.


Patsy Fraser, costume and set designer, graduate of Epsom School of Art and Design, Birmingham City University and The Slade School, London. Trained in theatre design and PGCE.


Bart Lee, writer and director, graduate of Rose Bruford Drama School, NYMT, Welfare State Theatre and Community placement, ACE NPO company director, Drama HOD and Art Centre Management. Trained in acting and QTS.