Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Mmmbeth by Allison Williams is a hilarious gender-bending take on the Scottish play that is a fantastic adaptation for high school and middle school student performers.
Everything goes wrong. The witches take over the storytelling, Queen Duncan would rather open a donut franchise than die, Lady M’s a bloodthirsty June Cleaver, and the murderers are preoccupied with creating a commercial for their services.
Why did we publish this play?
Sometimes all it takes is the right hook for students to connect to Shakespeare. Mmmbeth is just that hook. A parody of The Scottish Play, Allison follows the track of original tragic story but makes the whole thing a bold and raucous comedy. Who knew Shakespeare was so much fun!
King Duncan is now Queen Duncan and refuses to leave the play, even after she’s killed. Lady M is a blood thirsty June Cleaver. The murderers are obsessed with making commercials. The point is that students can get a grasp of the story, have fun with the story, and open a door to reading the original. Allison also plays with the theatre conventions and mysteries surrounding the original name – don’t say his name on stage or you might get trampled by a hoard of marathon runners!
1. Why did you write this play?
I was working with a school in El Dorado Arkansas, and they wanted to do something light and fun for their competition. I wrote the original draft in five days, they rehearsed it for a week, and took it to competition. Kids were learning the last of their lines in the car on the way there!
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
What goes around comes around.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
A cool little side area for the witches to have as their witchy grotto.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
I’m excited to update and rewrite this one, so if you come up with a good joke in rehearsal, send it to me! And have fun with costumes – this one you can pull just about anything out of storage and have it work.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
We really do cover all of the original play, which is one of my favorites. So this is a great introduction to how fundamentally whacko a lot of Shakespeare’s plays are.
by Julie Hartley
Shakespeare is one of the greatest resources a drama teacher can have. But teaching it can be a challenge. Practical Approaches to Shakespeare in the Drama Classroom helps drama teachers break down the Bard to make his themes, language and characters accessible to all.