Below we present the complete text of “A New Strategy”, episode 1 of our new Science Fiction adaptation of Macbeth Amongst the Stars. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (featuring the familiar Shakespearian characters in a against a backdrop of starships, rayguns and intergalactic politics). If you would like to see these new stories advance from being drafts into polished publications then please consider supporting us by purchasing one or more of our previously published titles. Every sale directly funds the production of new stories.
Macbeth Amongst the Stars
EPISODE #1 – A NEW STRATEGY
by Philip Craig Robotham
Cover Illustration by Miyukiko
Copyright 2016 Philip Craig Robotham
Creative Commons Attritubution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Edition .
This play is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) International license. This play may not be commercially reproduced, performed, or sold. Non-commercial production, performance, and reproduction is allowed under this license so long as attribution is maintained. No derivative content or use is allowed. It can be freely shared in its current form (without change) under this license. If you would like to purchase one or more copies of this work (for your own personal non-commercial use, or to help financially support the author) then please return to http://www.weirdworlstudios.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
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Serial #2: Macbeth Amongst the Stars
General Macbeth and Banquo face down and defeat the traitor Macdonwald in a space battle that saves the empire from alien invasion. However, when they are intercepted by aliens who deliver a cryptic prophecy on their return home, the fire of ambition is lit within Macbeth and he sets out on a bloody quest to seize the empire for himself. In order to succeed Macbeth must navigate terrorist plots, a nano-plague, and even pit himself against his former friends and allies. Will his plans and manoeuvrings help him gain the prize he seeks? Tune in to “Macbeth amongst the stars” and experience this classic tale (now set in a sci-fi future) for yourself.
Episodes in the Host Your Own “Old Time Radio Drama” series are designed to provide a fun dinner party experience for 6–8 participants. Read along, taking on the role of one or more of the characters in the story, and listen as the exciting drama unfolds. This is the theater of the mind, where the special effects are only limited by your imagination, and your participation will build a memory that you’ll treasure for years to come.
Macbeth Amongst the Stars
NARRATOR: The Narrator
PRIOR: The Alien that speaks of the past
EXTANT: The Alien that speaks of the present
ULTERIOR: The Alien that speaks of the future
DUNCAN: The Emperor of Human Space
CONTROLLER: Communications officer for the Emperor
REPORTER: Battlefield reporter
CONTROLLER #2: Communications officer for the Emperor
REPORTER #2: Battlefield reporter
MACBETH: General in service to the Emperor
BANQUO: General in service to the Emperor
ROSS: General in service to the Emperor
SFX: SFX operator (1 required)
SCENE 1: (INT) ALIEN CONGRESS (PRIOR, EXTANT, ULTERIOR)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME AND TITLE – LET IT FINISH.
- NARRATOR: The spread of humanity throughout the stars has been accelerating. Emperor Duncan I (THE FIRST) has established more colonies than any of his predecessors and has an insatiable appetite for more. But suddenly his own empire has become the subject of an alien invasion. Far from the Emperor’s well fortified capital planet of Dunsinane, an alien enemy meet together to discuss his downfall.
- SOUND: ELECTRICAL HUM AND STRANGE BEEPS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) Our strategies have failed.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) They are proving unfruitful, it is true. The humans are spreading quickly.
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) They have bred quickly with little concern for anything other than the consumption of resources and their own petty wars. They have been unsuccessful at wiping themselves out. Our invasion of the territories they have claimed was ill thought out. We should not have trusted to their willingness to betray one another.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) We may yet prevail.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) A new strategy is needed.
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) We have encouraged their self-destruction. We have encouraged external threats to their continued existence. We have aided their petty betrayals and sought to gain the upper hand through them.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) None are working as well as we’d like.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) Then, let us attack them from within.
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) They have shown themselves open to corruption and betrayal.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) There is a battle under way.
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) It has been lost…
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) Though it continues. I see an opportunity.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) And I will present a proposal…
- MUSIC: OMINOUS SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 2: (INT) DUNSINANE COMMAND AND CONTROL (DUNCAN, CONTROLLER, CONTROLLER 2, REPORTER, REPORTER 2)
- SOUND: BUSY CONTROL ROOM MURMUR – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- SOUND: BEEPING – LET IT FINISH.
- CONTROLLER: This is Dunsinane Control, report!
- REPORTER: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Planets Lochaber (LOCK-ARBOR) and Glamis (GLARMS) are overwhelmed. We have lost communication with both General Macbeth and General Banquo. Macdonwald’s forces from planet Cawdor have joined with the aliens.
- DUNCAN: Macdonwald! A traitor? That explains how they got through our defences so quickly. Planet Cawdor would have been the main impediment to their progress. With the first two garrison planets gone, and without the aid of Macdonwald there is nothing between the enemy and the seat of empire here on Dunsinane.
- SOUND: BEEPING – LET IT FINISH
- CONTROLLER: This is Dunsinane Control, report!
- REPORTER #2: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) This is planet Glamis (GLARMS). General Macbeth has begun a counter offensive against the invaders. We… to… inside the…
- CONTROLLER: I’ve lost the signal, sir.
- DUNCAN: Macbeth is a good man. We shouldn’t count him out just yet.
- CONTROLLER #2: Emperor Duncan, the screens are showing that a large force just linked up with the remnants of Banquo’s fleet and has begun attacking the invaders from behind.
- DUNCAN: Macbeth! Ha ha! The sly fox! He let them believe they’d bested him while he held the bulk of his fleet in reserve. If we survive this, I’m going to give him Cawdor as his own governorship. Send out everything we’ve got. If those invaders are hemmed in both from the front and behind, we may still prevail. Macbeth may have just handed us victory. In fact he may even have secured the very survival of our species.
- MUSIC: NEUTRAL SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH
SCENE 3: (EXT) THE HEART OF A SPACE BATTLE (MACBETH, MACDONWALD, BANQUO)
- SOUND: ZAPS AND EXPLOSIONS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- MACBETH: (GLEEFULL) Drive them boys! Drive them like fish into a net. Don’t let any of them get away. Just, be sure to leave that traitor, Macdonwald, to me.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) (CHEERFUL) Your glee is unbecoming, General Macbeth. Even a General should avoid giving the appearance of loving mayhem this much.
- MACBETH: Ha ha! So you say, General Banquo, but I hear the excitement in your voice, too. Your blood rushes with the same fire as mine. We have the victory, and shortly we’ll have that traitorous dog, Macdonwald.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Sooner than you think. That is his capital ship on the scanners now.
- MACBETH: That coward! Hiding in a capital ship while his men risk their lives on his behalf in the fighter craft.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) His ambition always was greater than his leadership acumen. Still, his men are loyal. It looks like they are forming up to attempt a final defense of his ship.
- MACBETH: They have no choice. There isn’t one of them that won’t be visiting the Emperor’s execution chambers after such treachery. They must fight or die.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) On your left!
- SOUND: ZAP SIZZLES PAST MACBETH’S SHIP – LET IT FINISH
- MACBETH: Oh, you think you want to take a shot at me do you. Take that!
- SOUND: ZAP AND BOOM – LET IT FINISH.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) You got him! How do you want to handle the approach?
- MACBETH: See if you and your men can draw their fire while I put a torpedo into the aft engines. That should hold his ship in place while we get in position for the kill.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Will do.
- SOUND: ZOOM AND STRAFING – FADE.
- MACBETH: Right. Here goes. Come at me you beauties.
- SOUND: STRAFING ZAPS – UNDER.
- MACBETH: (LAUGHING LIKE A MANIAC) Hahahahahaha! And…
- SOUND: TORPEDO LAUNCH AND WHOOSH – FADE UNDER
- MACBETH: Away!
- SOUND: DISTANT BOOM – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: And there we have it. What do you think Mac-bloody-donwald will have to say in reply to that, eh, Banquo?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Not a lot since you are bang on target, General Macbeth. Congratulations.
- MACBETH: And to you, General Banquo! I’d call that a roaring success!
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) And it is, but if you don’t mind, there’s something I’d like you to do.
- MACBETH: And what’s that?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Since I drew those fighters away, I’ve now got six of them on my tail and not a few of them have some major ordinance and a missile lock.
- MACBETH: (COUGHS) Right. (BEAT) I’ll be there momentarily. Try and lead them back this way.
- MCDONWALD: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) This is General Macdonwald to attacking ships. You’ve succeeded in crippling our fusion engines and we are unable to flee. I will give the order to lay down our arms and surrender on condition that you allow my men to go free. None of them are to be…
- MACBETH: (INTERRUPTING) You cowardly gutter-feeder! Even in defeat you try to salvage your reputation – broadcasting on a wide, unshielded, band so your men can hear you. You’re a traitor, Macdonwald, and we’ll be giving no quarter. Here’s my answer to your conditions.
- SOUND: TWO TORPEDO LAUNCHES WITH WHOOSHES FOLLOWED BY TWO EXPLOSIONS, FOLLOWED BY A RUMBLING THIRD – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: And so ends Macdonwald the traitor. (BEAT) But now, where is that dratted Banquo? It’d be just like him if he went and got himself killed right when we’ve won the day.
- SOUND: WHOOSH OF MACBETH’S FIGHTER FLYING BY – FADE
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 4: (EXT) BIRNHAM ASTEROID FIELD (ON THE WAY TO DUNSINANE) (MACBETH, BANQUO)
- SOUND: HUM OF SHIP’S ENGINE. OCCASIONAL EXPLODING ASTEROID – LET IT FINISH.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) I’m not so sure this was the best idea you’ve ever had Macbeth.
- MACBETH: Don’t be such a child, Banquo. We’ve been summoned to Dunsinane by the Emperor no less. Going through the Birnham asteroid field is still the most direct route.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) We’re lost! And short cuts make for long delays, not to mention the – ahem – impact of being crushed by asteroids…
- MACBETH: Jokes yet! I should have left you to the mercy of those ships you had on your tail.
- SOUND: BIG SMASH OF ASTEROIDS TOGETHER – LET IT FINISH.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Damn, that was close!
- MACBETH: (GLEEFULL) Stop your whining.
- SOUND: WARNING BEEP – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- MACBETH: Oops! That’s not good.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Who’s whining now?
- MACBETH: I just lost my navigation, laddie. I’m officially flying blind.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) We’ve been flying blind for the last hour and a half… damn, I’ve just lost my navigation as well.
- MACBETH: What treachery is this? Something is deliberately scrambling our equipment. There’s nothing natural about it.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) We’re coming up on a clearing in the asteroids. It’s a perfect spot for an ambush. I’m heating up the blasters and cutting the engines.
- MACBETH: Likewise. What do you think? Pirates?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) It’s a crazy place to hide… but I guess no-one would look for them here.
- MACBETH: Hmmm. That’s a blind spot in our defenses. We’ll need to patch that hole when we get out again.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Macbeth, are you seeing this?
- MACBETH: It looks like a hole is being ripped in the space ahead of us.
- SOUND: RATTLING – GETTING MORE FRENETIC – UNDER
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) My controls are locked up. I’m being sucked in.
- MACBETH: Damnit. Me too.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) I’ve got a very bad feeling about this!
- SOUND: RATTLING INCREASES – FADE UP THEN STOP.
- SOUND: SHOOP NOISE OF BEING SWALLOWED BY RIP – LET FINISH THEN HOLD ON SILENCE FOR A BEAT.
- MACBETH: Where in Hell’s blood-soaked halls are we?
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 5: (EXT) STARLESS SPACE (MACBETH, BANQUO, PRIOR, EXTANT, AND ULTERIOR)
- SOUND: HUM OF FIGHTER ENGINES IN FLIGHT – ESTABLISH AD UNDER
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) What happened to the stars?
- MACBETH: What happened to the asteroids?
- PRIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Hail General Macbeth, he who destroyed the traitor Macdonwald.
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Hail General Macbeth, protector of the planet Glamis (GLARMS).
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Hail General Macbeth, who shall be protector of the planet Cawdor and Emperor hereafter.
- MACBETH: What is this? Who is there? Show yourselves? (BEAT) Banquo, are you receiving this signal?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) I’m receiving it, but I can’t make out its source. Be on your guard.
- PRIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Hail General Banquo, a man who has shown great courage.
- EXTANT (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Hail General Banquo, a man who is both suspicious and too trusting. The protector of planet Lochaber (LOCK-ARBOR).
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Hail General Banquo, who shall be protector of Glamis (GLARMS) when Macbeth ascends, and who shall be father to Emperors hereafter.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Is this a joke? Where are we? What have you done to us? Who are you?
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) You are safe, General Banquo. We mean you no harm.
- MACBETH: (DERISIVE) Ha! I doubt the good intentions of kidnappers. Show yourselves and I’ll show you a torpedo or two for your trouble.
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) We remain in darkness until our purpose is complete.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) And what is that purpose? I say again, who are you?
- PRIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Always you have asked the wrong questions, Banquo.
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) But we will give you an answer.
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) We are oracles.
- PRIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) We have interpreted the past.
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) And we will create the future.
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) You have a destiny, General Macbeth. As do you, General Banquo.
- PRIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) We have seen it.
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Do not be afraid to meet it.
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) For it is coming, whether you look for it or not.
- PRIOR, EXTANT, AND ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICES) (ECHOING LAUGHTER) Hahahahaha (FADE)
- SOUND: SHOOP NOISE OF BEING SPAT OUT OF THE RIP – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: LOUD RATTLING RETURNS. OCCASIONAL BOOMS OF ASTEROIDS BEING CRUSHED AGAINST EACH OTHER. INSISTANT PROXIMITY WARNING BEEP – UNDER.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) We’re back.
- MACBETH: But we’re headed straight for that huge asteroid. Pull up.
- BANQUO AND MACBETH: (STRUGGLING WITH THE CONTROLS) Uuuuuuuuuugh!
- SOUND: BEEP STOPS.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) (BIG SIGH) Phew. That was close.
- MACBETH: I’ve got navigation back and I can see a way through to clear space.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Me too. I can’t put this field of debris and ghosts behind us too quickly.
- MACBETH: Agreed. Let’s get out of here. Maximum burn.
- SOUND: ENGINES INTENSIFY – ESTABLISH AND FADE.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 6: (EXT) SPACE (MACBETH, BANQUO, ROSS)
- SOUND: HUM OF ROCKETS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- MACBETH: I’ve heard tales, from old spacers and the like, but I never believed them.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) What was that?
- MACBETH: The tales, man, the tales. About oracles, ghosts, and the angels of the spaceways.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) I’m not sure I believe it still.
- MACBETH: But we encountered… something.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) But whether that something sought to do us good or harm is beyond my capacity to guess.
- MACBETH: You think they spoke falsely?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) How could they not? No-one can see the future, Macbeth.
- MACBETH: (UNCERTAIN) I’m not so sure. There have been tales about encounters in the empty spaces between worlds. Encounters that provided portentous prophecies that have changed the very shape of history.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Nonsense! Superstitious nonsense.
- MACBETH: Perhaps. Doesn’t the idea of having your descendants sit upon the throne of empire appeal to you, Banquo?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) What man doesn’t wish glory upon his descendants? But I’d rather wisdom, courage and honour first.
- MACBETH: The two are not mutually exclusive, my friend. But still…
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Don’t tell me that a few words uttered in empty space has lit the fire of ambition in your heart, Macbeth?
- MACBETH: Don’t be a fool. Haven’t we just fought off a traitor? Putting our blood and bone between him and our Emperor? Do you think a few words could so easily move me to rash action?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Forgive me. Of course I don’t. But beware. Better men than us have been prompted to treason by a careless word. If the prophecy is true, it will be shown as such by the passage of time, without the help of you or I. And if it is false…
- MACBETH: Yes?
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Well, we have our duty and our honour and the glory of serving our Emperor to keep us both happy and occupied.
- MACBETH: Ha ha! You sound like a recruiting handbook, but yes, you’re right. (BEAT) And Dunsinane is approaching.
- ROSS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) This is Dunsinane Control, General Ross speaking, hailing Generals Macbeth and Banquo. Welcome to planet Dunsinane.
- MACBETH: Ross, you old swamp rat! Thanks for the greetings, and all hail the Emperor. How is the old beer swilling palace slug?
- ROSS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) All hail. He is fit and well and in a celebratory mood. But I doubt he’d appreciate your choice of comparison. Only you, as his cousin, could get away with a comment like that Macbeth.
- MACBETH: (TEASING) You don’t find the comparison an apt one?
- ROSS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) (LAUGHING) He may be your cousin, General, but he is also my Emperor and I do not choose to dignify your question with a response. Besides, I am also instructed, General Macbeth, by Emperor Duncan to greet you as the new protector of planet Cawdor.
- MACBETH: (SHOCKED) What?
- ROSS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) With Macdonwald vanquished, the Emperor has need of you as the planet’s new protector. And, as for you Banquo, since Macbeth will of necessity be vacating Glamis (GLARMS) to take up this new post, the Emperor instructs me to let you know that you will be promoted to protector of planet Glamis (GLARMS). Congratulations my friends!
- MACBETH: Well, I’ll be stripped naked and buried in fingal dung!
- ROSS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) (LAUGHING) In all probability! But you’d better not let the Emperor hear you speaking like that. Bring your ships into the palace docking bays.
- BANQUO: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) The palace bays. This is an honour!
- ROSS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) The Emperor is very pleased with the pair of you. It’s only the beginning of the honours he wants to bestow in gratitude for saving his empire.
- MACBETH: Oh no! I’d hoped we’d get a chance to do some feasting. Now we’ll have to sit through my cousin’s interminable speeches. (BEAT) Ah well, no good deed goes unpunished, as they say.
- ROSS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Indeed. I look forward to seeing you on the ground. God speed. This is Dunsinane control, out!
- SOUND: TWO SHIPS PASSING – FADE OUT
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
SCENE 7: (INT) THE PALACE (MACBETH, BANQUO, DUNCAN)
- SOUND: PALACE IN CELEBRATION – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- MACBETH: You’ve been pretty quiet since we landed, Banquo.
- BANQUO: There’s a lot to think about.
- MACBETH: And a lot to discuss. We need to talk some more, don’t you think?
- BANQUO: Yes, the promotions are… disturbing.
- MACBETH: Disturbing? But you yourself said that time will reveal whether the prophecies are true or not. And they are being fulfilled without our needing to lift a finger.
- BANQUO: I did say that, true. But I can’t help wondering about the motives of those creatures we encountered. If the prophecies are inevitable, then why tell us? Is it to garner our favour? Is it to betray us to some evil end we cannot see? Do not forget, Macbeth, we are at war.
- MACBETH: You’ve always been wise and cautious, Banquo. I’ll not forget. But…
- ROSS: Macbeth! Banquo! Well met, friends. I hope your journey wasn’t too uncomfortable.
- BANQUO: A space fighter was never intended for long hops, but we endure.
- ROSS: Indeed you do. They say you fighter pilots never quite lose the craving for it.
- BANQUO: True enough, but the journey from Glamis (GLARMS) was long.
- ROSS: And I heard you came through the asteroid field. That is generally considered… dangerous.
- MACBETH: Not to small craft. You’d never get a battleship or cruiser through, but a small one-man fighter can, with a little cautious navigation, make it fairly easily. And it is far better than adding another nine hours to the trip by going all the way around. I’m saddle sore enough, thanks.
- ROSS: Well, we’re glad you made the journey safely. Duncan would have been sorely vexed if you’d gotten killed before he had the chance to punish you properly for saving his empire.
- MACBETH: (LAUGHING) I’m sure. Far be it from me to give him the satisfaction.
- DUNCAN: (IN HIGH SPIRITS) Macbeth! You miscreant! Come here and give your cousin a hug! Ha ha. By the stars it’s good to see you. I was never so glad of you as when you brought your reserves up to launch that surprise attack. You and Banquo pretty much saved our bacon.
- MACBETH: It’s what I do, Duncan. It’s exactly what I do.
- DUNCAN: And so humble as well. (SUDDENLY SERIOUS) Look I wanted to speak with you for a moment, before all the formalities kick in. I’ve given you Cawdor, as you know already, but I want to give you fair warning; it could be more curse than blessing. Macdonwald was incredibly popular among the people there. You are likely to face some strong opposition to your takeover, possibly even rebellion. Be ready to put down an insurrection or two if need be.
- MACBETH: (GRIMLY) I understand. And cousin, thankyou for this honour.
- DUNCAN: Don’t thank me yet. This honour includes risk as well as grim and bloody work. You may not have much reason for gratitude before this is over. But I couldn’t have trusted it to anyone else.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS – LET IT FINISH.
CASTING SHEETS – MAJOR CHARACTERS
PRIOR (THE ALIEN REPRESENTING THE FATE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PAST – AN AGED SAND-PAPERY HISSING VOICE): I have been responsible for the past. I spoke of ages gone by. I told of yesterday’s events. My voice was only heard when the past tense was used. I was oldest of my siblings.
EXTANT (THE ALIEN REPRESENTING THE FATE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PRESENT – A CHITTERING VOICE, HARSH, LIKE a BIRD OF PREY): I am responsible for the present. I speak of what is now, in this moment. I speak only in the present tense. I am the middle child among my siblings. I flit from sentence to sentence, moment to moment, like a bird of prey in search of its next kill.
ULTERIOR (THE ALIEN REPRESENTING THE FATE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FUTURE – A SINISTER CHILDLIKE GOBLIN – THINK GOLLUM – VOICE): I will be responsible for the future. I will tell you of what is to come. I will reveal what tomorrow has in store. I will speak only in the future tense. I will be the youngest of my siblings.
MACBETH (A BEAR OF A MAN WITH LITTLE SELF-AWARENESS AND A STRONG AND BOMBASTIC MANNER OF SPEECH WHO ENJOYS A GOOD FIGHT – A CROSS BETWEEN BRIAN BLESSED AND BILLY CONNOLLY): I am Macbeth; loyal, capable, cunning. I don’t tolerate nonsense or second-guessing from anyone. I am a man of action, first and foremost, and I don’t have time for prissy little milk-sops who want to waste time on empty words. So, speak up! What is it that you want?
BANQUO (THOUGHTFUL, A WARRIOR BY NECESSITY, BUT A PHILOSOPHER BY TEMPERAMENT): Greetings, I am Banquo. I have risen high in the court. I like to think I have the Emperor’s trust because I am reliable. I complete every duty I am assigned. I am fair and honest, and I enjoy a good fight if I am forced into one. In the end though, I’d rather spend my time reading in my palace.
DUNCAN (VERY LIKE MACBETH BUT MORE JOVIAL): I am Emperor of all of human space. I spent my youth doing what a young man should; fighting, carousing, making war! They say I’m something of a gourmand (a selfish pig, they mean, ha ha). Well, I like my food. What of it? A man of action stuck sitting in committees listening to the buzzing of all these educated insects that live off me and call themselves “advisors”, can’t be expected to get by without a few little comforts now, can he? My aim is to expand this empire across the known galaxy. (BEAT) Ah, but here comes the roast pig, now.
ROSS (CONFIDENTE OF DUNCAN, HUMOROUS, EFFICIENT): Welcome to Duncan’s court. I see you’ve managed to leave the wife and bairns behind again, General. We have your cot and monk’s cell prepared for you as requested, along with a regular morning bowl of gruel. What’s that? Oh, yes. Your wife contacted us to make all the arrangements. Apparently she wished you to know how much she appreciated being left behind with the children while you came to visit the Emperor’s court.
CASTING SHEETS — MINOR CHARACTERS
MACDONWALD (BRAVE, IDEALISTIC, HONOURABLE ACCORDING TO HIS BELIEFS): They call me a traitor but I’ve only ever tried to do right by my people. They deserve self-determination. They deserve the right to govern their own affairs. For too long, the empire has relied on its elitist and authoritarian traditions to hold the people in check. Some say I’m being controlled… Some say I’m being… Why can’t I think about this topic… Why can’t I just… (BEAT) Let them call me a traitor. I have allies from outside our realm now. There is a new order coming.
CONTROLLERS AND REPORTERS (GENERIC): I’m a communications officer. It is my job to keep the communication channels open. It’s an important job and I take it very seriously. The last person in this role let the Emperor’s priority channel drop out and… well, lets just say I’m not going to let that happen to me.
NARRATOR (A TRUSTWORTHY, RELIABLE, POSSIBLY ENGLISH VOICE – THE KIND YOU WOULD TRUST TO SELL CHILDREN’S PHARMACEUTICALS: I bring the audience up to speed on what has happened in previous episodes. I relish the telling, a little like the hosts of the horror anthologies of the past. I try to convey a ghoulish enthusiasm for the story to the audience.
Writer’s Notes – for students and teachers
The events of Macbeth existed fully formed in Shakespeare’s original work. As a result there was not much need for dramatic invention in the construction of this play. The scenes had their own conflict etc. built in. However, a challenge still remained, and some considerable thought was given, with regard to how best adapt the work to a science fiction setting.
The question of how to effectively parallel and remain true to the themes and meaning built into Shakespeare’s work within a scifi setting, and how to communicate the work to a contemporary audience who would not share the social and historical context that made much of the work sensible to its original hearers and informs the understanding of modern audiences, especially where that context has been deliberately replaced with a futuristic setting, remained central in my approach.
In its original setting Macbeth is a politically conservative work, written to curry favour with a newly established monarch, James I, who has just survived the gunpowder plot. There is some reason to believe that Shakespeare was genuinely fearful of failing to be seen to be a supporter of the new King since there was, in fact, some connection between the conspirators who had tried to blow up parliament and his father’s family.
James I was a descendant of Banquo, and Macbeth serves as a polemic both in defense of the status quo and as an attack upon the notion of regicide and rebellion. In it, nature itself is turned upon its head by the death of Duncan. The murder of a king is portrayed as so “unnatural” an act that the natural world is rendered unnatural in response.
The three witches in the original work, are a curious amalgam of the Greek fates, and the popular notion of witchcraft (a topic with which King James was fascinated).
In this version of Macbeth I have tried to maintain both of these elements of the story. I introduce a “nano-blight” – a mutating plague that spreads in the background of the story – to stand in for Shakespeare’s perverted natural order. The witches, and their commitment to an upside down morality and world order have been replaced with a more overtly fate-like trio of aliens – one representing the past, one representing the present, and one representing the future. This choice was made because, in the view of this author, the witches ultimately undermine their own commitment to the perverted natural order by facilitating Macbeth’s downfall, actions more consonant with the fates than the proposed philosophical commitment of witchcraft in Shakespeare’s work.
Planets were substituted for castles and, after some thought, Birnham Wood was altered to Birnham asteroid field, allowing an asteroid bombardment to be used to represent the coming of the forest to Dunsinane.
The science fiction setting allowed the use of cloning to take the place of caesarean section as the means by which Macbeth’s nemesis managed to be “not born of woman”.
Lastly, I took one final liberty with the original text and made Fleance a woman. While the original audience were aware that James I was the descendant of Banquo (via marriage at some future time into Duncan’s line) and fulfilled the witches’ prophecies, the relationship of Banquo’s descendents to a future throne needed more immediate establishment in a scence fiction setting. By making Fleance female it became possible to explicitly place those descendants on the throne via a marriage between Duncan’s heir, Malcolm, and Fleance (now transformed into a female character).
Having established the broad, iconic, parameters of the play, along with their parallels, it was now easier to introduce original scenes (and modify traditional scenes), create new characters, and create new events that served the telling of the story, and revealed the deeper nature of the protagonists. Despite some new twists, characters, etc. Macbeth remains a tale of “o’er-leaping ambition” and the perils of the Machiavellian “will to power”.
Since I have been arrogant enough to attempt to adapt a master-work of English literature in this way (and worse to subject it to substantial alteration) I deserve anything I get in terms of “hate” from those who love the original. An attempt like this can’t help but offend many, but , I hope, there will be a few that forgive me and end up enjoying my attempt at imagining my favourite of Shakespeare’s stories, itself an adaptation of material found in Hollinshead’s Chronicles (in turn based on even older material), transplanted into the far future.
Except where noted above, there’s no reason that any of the major (non-lead) or minor characters should be necessarily male or female roles. The aliens, Stuart, Ross, Angus, and the Spy, though written as men, could easily be changed to female roles with a modification of pronouns.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Philip Craig Robotham grew up in a house full of books and has held numerous jobs as a teacher, computer programmer, graphic and web designer, e-learning consultant and, most recently, writer. He currently lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two sons. When he was younger and fitter he enjoyed martial arts, but in recent years his hobbies have tended towards more sedate fare (board games, movies, books, and role-playing games).
He is extremely grateful for the encouragement he receives from his biggest fans — his wife and two boys — all of whom read and enjoy his scripts and in general make his life worth living.
You can contact the author regarding performance rights (or simply to say hello) through his website: http://www.weirdworldstudios.com.
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