Macbeth, Updated For The Twentieth Century, Part ISubmitted by Quartermain at 2004-05-04 11:57:37 EDT
Rating: 1.66 on 26 ratings (26 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
I had to write a big-ass English paper this semester for a Shakespeare class. The professor stressed being creative so I took a whack at re-writing 'Macbeth' and trying to update it. Since I spent so much time on it, I figured I'd post it (in chunks) so y'all could marvel at my brillance. Or at least have something to read on the john.
Oh, and the first person to say WTF IM NOT READING ALL THAT gets mailed a dead woodchuck.
It’s dark. Dark dark. Dark as a lidded well at midnight on a moonless overcast night. And then, all of a sudden, a flare of light. A weak fire is being kindled. The little bit of light reveals a person of indeterminate age and gender. They are very dirty, with long straggly grey hair, red and weepy eyes, and alcoholic roseacea. They are dressed in rags and tags and cast-offs. This is ANONYMOUS, the chorus and instigator of the story. This person begins to rock back and forth, muttering to themselves. As they speak, it becomes apparent that they are speaking in three distinctly different voices, a young woman (18-25), a middle aged woman (35-50), and an older woman (65-85). With each vocal switch, their eyes change colour and their facial features shift and twitch with each new speaker.
ANON.: 1st Voice: (flighty and flirty, very light and breathy) When shall we three meet again, in thunder, lightning, or in rain?
2nd Voice: (deep and sultry, very confident in itself, almost a purr) When the hurly-burly’s done, when the battle’s lost and won.
3rd Voice: (cracked and weathered. High-pitched and reedy) That will be ere the set of sun.
1st Voice: Where the place?
2nd Voice: Upon the heath.
3rd Voice: There to meet with Macbeth…
(The camera focuses in on a tattered, leather-bound book lying next to ANONYMOUS. A gust of wind blows the cover back and we can see printed on the flyleaf the words ‘The Collected Works of William Shakespeare.’ A another gust flips pages until we get to the frontispiece of ‘Macbeth.’ There is a picture there, a reproduction of an old woodcut, but strangely enough, it doesn’t appear to be germane to the play. It’s undeniably a woodcut done in the mediaeval style (i.e. Durer) but appears to be a lawyer arguing in a court. A modern courtroom scene can be plainly seen. The camera zooms in on the woodcut and holds for a beat, then snaps to black.
Sweeping Ariel View: An unnamed city. Even though it’s never named, it’s very much an urban metropolis. There are skyscrapers, and buses, and taxis, and people crowding the sidewalks. There is a port and shipping. It’s the urban archetype, the Uber-city. Much like New York, it’s the city of 500,000 souls, and twice that many actual people.
The camera tightens until it zooms in on one particular skyscraper. A large mirrored glass building with an impressive façade. A discreet brass plaque on the outside wall tells us that is the law firm of Duncan, Ross, and Seward. Cut to a boardroom, furnished in Early Conspicuous Consumption. Plush, wine-dark carpet, the kind that you sink into when you walk on it. Huge, expensive looking hardwood table, ultra-comfortable leather chairs, liquor cabinet in one corner stocked with several bottles and fixings. Several men in expensive suits are sitting around the conference table. There is a general low hum of conversation. Two of the three Senior Partners are there, as are some middle-management ‘climbers’ and various secretaries and assistants.
The older, silver-haired, leonine man at the head of the table (think Sean Connery in ‘Hunt for Red October’) does not participate in any of the conversations taking place. This is ANGUS DUNCAN, senior partner and head of the firm. He just sits there, fingers steepled, waiting, thinking and planning. Next to him sits an older, frailer-looking man who has dozed off. This is JAMES SEWARD, the second senior partner. He is due to retire soon, if he doesn’t die in his office tomorrow. The door opens and LENOX, DUNCAN’S assistant, comes in and says something to him sotto voce. DUNCAN nods, and LENOX leaves, reappearing shortly leading another man into the room.
This man is a general intern-looking kind of law clerk. Young, kind of shabbily-dressed, but in means of quality, not for lack of trying. Where everyone else’s suit is Armani or the equivalent, his is Sears. He’s someone way down on the totem pole and (slowly) working his way up. He is tired-looking and kind of rumpled, his sleeves rolled up, his tie pulled down, dark circles under his eyes, five o’clock shadow, that kind of thing. At his appearance in the room, the conversation dies, DUNCAN looks up from the middle distance he’s been looking into, and Seward comes back (barely) into the land of the conscious. Freeze-frame and title scroll at the bottom of the screen: ‘DUNCAN, ROSS, AND SEWARD. STRATEGY MEETING. SEPTEMBER 15 17:55.
DUNCAN: (gesturing to an empty seat near himself) Sit down son; you look like you’ve been to the wars. What can you tell us about the case?
CLERK: (normally, he’d be nervous at being here in front of all these movers and shakers, but at the moment he’s too tired and worn) Thank you, sir. (Sits) It went way better than we expected. The judge decided for us on all points. Macdonwald thought he had us, jumping to their firm like he did, but Macbeth ploughed right through his arguments like they weren’t even there. You should have seen the look on Macdonwald’s face; it was like he’d been gutted and was trying his damnedest to keep his chitlins where they belong. The head counsel, Norvay, tried an eleventh-hour save, but Macbeth had planned for that too, just in case. Neither judge nor jury bought it, and the decision was ours.
LENOX: (who has quietly and discreetly been on the phone.) I’ve just received word that Norvay’s firm has approached us about a settlement, sir. What shall I tell them?
DUNCAN: Settle it, but make sure they know who won. I want this done on our terms. (Taps the table with two fingers while he says this to emphasize his point) Also, I want to see Macdonwald disbarred and generally unable to get a job that has anything whatsoever to do with the law. I don’t care how it’s done, but I don’t him to be able to play a lawyer on TV, even. And since we seem to have a vacant executive spot (beat, considering) Have Macbeth’s effects moved in to Macdonwald’s former office, I think he’s earned that, at least.
LENOX: (making notes in on his handheld) I’ll see to it right away, sir. (Exits)
DUNCAN stands up to leave and all the others stand as well, except for the CLERK, who has inadvertently fallen asleep in his chair. There is a muted buzz at this breach of etiquette, but they are all waiting to see what DUNCAN does before they say anything outright. DUNCAN motions them all to leave, quietly. They do. He then goes to a cabinet and pulls out a utilitarian looking blanket, which he brings back to where the CLERK is. He begins to drape the blanket over the CLERK. And then stops. He looks at the guy’s suit and does a bit of the mock frown. He pulls a few bills from the inside of his suit coat and tucks them into the CLERK’s shirt pocket. He smiles then, drapes the blanket over the CLERK, and leaves, turning out the lights on his way.
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Submitted by Random Joe at 2004-05-04 12:43:30 EDT (#)