Working with the design team tonight on the infamous Lady Macbeth “mad scene.”
The text does point to the standard vision of this scene as we usually see it performed, nightgown, candle, uplight, etc… And it makes a kind of theatrical sense. But it’s so commonly done that I feel like it’s become cliché. And as such, it does not get at the visceral sense of fragmentation that the text points to – a kind of “out-of-time”-ness that she is experiencing.
I think the play exposes this amazing gap that we all experience sometimes, when we realize that our linear sense of time, the way one event connects temporally to the other, the sense of action and consequence following rationally upon each other, might be a myth. Extreme grief can do this to us. And I think Lady M has lost a child, and experienced that kind of totality of grief where time senses to have linear meaning. She’s pulled out of it temporarily, through much of the play, by the opportunity she and her husband have to re-claim what they feel they have lost as a result of the malaise that has settled over their marriage and career advancement since the death of their son. But when Macbeth begins to fall apart – to see ghosts, to murder Macduff’s son – her temporal disconnect returns, an extreme depression that leads her to lose track of where she is in time, to collapse all of the events on top of each other. So her mad scene is the heart of the tragedy, I think – what is to evoke our pity and our fear and see how tenuous our own grasp on rationality might be if we were put through the extremities she has been put through.
So no nightgown. Trying to build that iconic image of the devastated mother or father who never leaves the couch; who watches old video of their living child – to torment themselves? To try to re-capture some of the love and joy? To try to make time straight again?