Shakespeare’s witches haven’t always terrified audiences. For a century and more – from the late 17th to the early 19th centuries – actors played these parts for laughs. During the period in which Shakespeare became “the Bard”, the witches in fact brought a large dose of comedy to Shakespeare’s bloody tragedy. The origins of this surprising, but long-lasting, stage interpretation go back to 1664.
Posts Tagged: witches
Shakespeare’s witches, like nearly all witches of Shakespeare’s time, have their roots in the kitchen more than in the study.
Adapted by William Davenant and first performed in 1664, the version of the Scottish play taking to the Folger stage in September was the most popular one well into the 18th century despite—or perhaps because of—the numerous departures from Shakespeare’s original text.
Worried about encountering witches like Macbeth this All Hallows Eve? Turn to a witch-hunting manual such as the Malleus Maleficarum! This famous book, known as “The Hammer of Witches” in English, was written in the 15th century by a pair of inquisitors for the Catholic Church. The text was originally published in Latin, as many… Continue Reading »
Folger Finds delivers delightful and insightful moments with the Folger collection. Sarah Hovde, a cataloger at the Folger Shakespeare Library, shows us some surprise artwork in a 1910 edition of Macbeth. When cataloging a rare book, librarians try to balance describing the things that are identical to every copy of that book (like the publisher, the number of… Continue Reading »