As well as looking at how we’ve staged Macbeth, which you can do in the Investigate section, it’s important to think about what you would do if you were staging the play. And, if you can, to perform parts of it yourself.

We encourage you to look at the play, or scenes in the play, and think through the decisions a director makes with their actors:

  • Where is the play set?
  • How are the characters connected?
  • What do the characters want?

Here you can find some key things to think about before staging the play yourself. Even if you’re working towards an exam or preparing for an assignment, it’s important to think about different ways of reading lines or words and taking a look at the key decisions a director needs to make could really help your essay responses.

  • Key Decisions to Make

    There are certain things that every director and creative team have to consider. The way you answer the following questions below can create incredibly different interpretations of the play.

    The Supernatural

    • How can you help modern audiences to believe in the witches and the supernatural?
    • Is the magic used by the witches real?
    • How much do the characters in the play believe in magic and witchcraft? For example, when Macbeth sees Banquo’s ghost, would other characters believe such a thing was possible?
    • How will you stage the witches? What do they look like?
    • How will you show the apparition of the dagger? Is it something visible to the audience, or is it in Macbeth’s mind?

    Status and Society

    • How do people become thanes or lords?
    • How much loyalty to the king is expected and how do people react to him?
    • What kind of rule did King Duncan have and how is Macbeth’s different?
    • How is the English kingdom different to the Scottish one?
    • Are there visual ways that status is shown to others? For example, does the king wear a crown?
    • What is the role of women in this society and how conventional are Lady Macbeth and Lady Macduff?


    • How important is prowess in battle? Macbeth is made Thane of Cawdor for his success in battle but what are the other thanes like?
    • What was the war against the rebellious forces like? How have they been fighting? Why did those people rebel?
    • How much has warfare affected the country and the king’s court?
    • The play starts and ends with fighting. Will you stage these conflicts differently and how?
    • In the text, most of the deaths happen offstage, apart from Banquo’s. How much violence do you want to show on the stage?

    Within each of these choices, there are lots of key moments and scenes to explore.

    Going back through the Investigate section and looking at the different performances we’ve had at the RSC, think about these three areas:

    • Can you see how each director has presented the supernatural? Why do you think they have made these choices?
    • How is the hierarchy and status of characters shown? Has this affected the design of set and costume?
    • How are the men presented as warriors and how do they fight?

    To explore a particular production in even more detail take a look at the Casebooks for the 1976 and 1999 productions.

Teacher Notes

This page looks at some of the key decisions a director makes.

Challenge your students to think about how they would want to tell the story of Macbeth. How would they respond to the questions here?