Below we present the complete text of “The Sky is Falling”, episode 5 (and final) of our new Science Fiction adaptation of Macbeth Amongst the Stars. This is a brand new (unpublished) series (featuring the familiar Shakespearian characters against a backdrop of starships, rayguns and intergalactic politics).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 #5 – THE SKY IS FALLING
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 – EPISODE 4 – THE HEEL OF THE BOOT
NARRATOR: The Narrator
MACBETH: Emperor of human space
LADY MACBETH: Wife to the Emperor
ADVISOR#1-2: Advisors at the imperial court
MACDUFF: General in service to Malcolm
MALCOLM: Son of the murdered Emperor; Duncan.
SPY: The Emperor’s chief of spies
ROSS: General in service to Malcolm
ANGUS: General in service to Malcolm
DOCTOR: Doctor to the Emperor.
PRIOR: Alien conspirator
EXTANT: Alien conspirator
ULTERIOR: Alien conspirator
OTHERS: Chorus of generals
CONTROLLER: Communications officer
VOICES: A chorus of voices of the damned
SFX ARTIST: Minimum 1 required
SCENE 1: (INT) THRONE ROOM ON PALACE DUNSINANE
(NARRATOR, MACBETH, ADVISOR#1, ADVISOR#2, ADVISOR#3, LADY MACBETH, SPY)
- MUSIC: OPENING THEME AND TITLE – LET IT FINISH
- NARRATOR: To secure his throne from all rivals, Macbeth has murdered his best friend and the family of Macduff, one of his most honest and loyal generals. Meanwhile Malcolm is raising an army against Macbeth and the imperial administration faces numerous new threats, not the least of which is the defection of large numbers of generals who now feel the Emperor is, if not mad, increasingly unstable. Can Macbeth regain the loyalty of the military and save his empire from destruction, or will he crown the mountain of corpses he has left in his wake with one last life? His own?
- SOUND: (WALLA) ANGRY MURMURINGS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS ENTERING – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: What is the meaning of this commotion?
- SOUND: ANGRY MUTTERING SUBSIDES – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: That’s better. What is going on here?
- ADVISOR#1: Forgive us, your highness. We have received distressing news.
- MACBETH: Oh?
- ADVISOR#1: (BEAT)
- MACBETH: Come on man. Out with it! I’ve never known members of the trade delegation to be backward in the bringing of bad news before.
- ADVISOR#1: The food shortages within the empire have increased. It is said that, despite your best efforts, the nano-blight infection has been spreading from planet to planet.
- ADVISOR#2: And there is worse news. The star at the center of the Andover system just went supernova. We now have a massive refugee crisis on our hands.
- MACBETH: We were aware of the impending solar event. A blockade was established to help process the refugees.
- ADVISOR#2: It appears that the blockade has not held. A large number of troops opted to change sides rather than obey the orders you had given them.
- ADVISOR#1: And now it appears there may be a new threat. The blight may have jumped to the human population. There is word that planet Cobain is seeing strange mutations in segments of the population. That, in order to fend off starvation, many have taken to eating the infected grain, and succumbed.
- ADVISOR#2: But most concerning of all are the rumours that numerous planets and systems, led by your own generals, have defected and abandoned you. It is said that Malcolm has returned and is leading an army headed by Macduff and Fleance. That even Ross has gone over to join them.
- MACBETH: Enough of this. The Emperor’s court has always been a breeding ground for rumour and innuendo. That you would allow these unsubstantiated and fallacious…
- LADY MACBETH: (DISTRESSED) Husband, husband! What have you done? What have you done?
- MACBETH: Gruoch! This is not the time…
- LADY MACBETH: I have received word from Lochaber (LOCK-ARBOR). There has been a massacre. My cousin, Marissa… The children…
- MACBETH: (FURIOUS) Clear the court! Clear the court!
- ADVISOR#1: Er… Yes, your majesty. (TO THE CROWD) Quickly. Go. Go now. Move!
- SOUND: DEPARTING ADVISORS – FADE OUT UNDER
- SPY: Do you wish me to depart as well, my Lord?
- MACBETH: No, not you! I want you to stay!
- LADY MACBETH: (WEEPING – UNDER)
- MACBETH: Calm down, my love. Think of the baby.
- LADY MACBETH: How could you do this?
- MACBETH: Macduff was planning to expose us. I thought it best to…
- LADY MACBETH: To murder my kin?
- MACBETH: to keep these dark, but necessary, deeds from you. How did you discover this?
- LADY MACBETH: Surely you knew I’d find out?
- MACBETH: (FRUSTRATED) Of course I knew. I just didn’t think you’d come screaming about it into the palace court. (BEAT) You are not the only one who has suffered loss in this business. It was you who set my hand to the murder of my own cousin and my best friend. This is the price we pay for power.
- LADY MACBETH: But Marissa…
- MACBETH: Marissa was a necessary sacrifice.
- LADY MACBETH: No. No. The blood! The blood, it’s everywhere. It’s on my hands. Fetch me water. Fetch me water. I need to wash it out!
- MACBETH: (CONCERNED) Gruoch! Gruoch!
- LADY MACBETH: The blood is everywhere. (IN PAIN) Ungh!
- SPY: My Lord, if I may…
- MACBETH: Go now. Fetch the doctor. The Lady is unwell.
- SPY: Yes, my Lord.
- MACBETH: And hurry.
- SOUND: FEET DEPARTING IN A HURRY – LET IT FINISH.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS RUNNING – LET IT FINISH.
- DOCTOR: I’ve got to escape this madhouse. If I run now, I may still get out before…
- MACBETH: Doctor! Where are you going?
- DOCTOR: (FLUSTERED) Er… Ah… Um, I was just… I was just coming to see you, my Lord.
- MACBETH: And I was coming to see you. Though I expected to find you in the royal apartments… attending my wife.
- DOCTOR: My Lord, I have terrible news. The babe came early and…
- MACBETH: What? Has something happened?
- DOCTOR: My Lord, your wife, she was in such a state. She kept crying for the baby so we placed him in her arms.
- MACBETH: A son! I have a son!
- DOCTOR: My Lord! It all happened so fast. She cried out saying “The Emperor’s murderer has no right to happiness” and then she dashed the child against the floor. When we rushed to the child’s aid, she grabbed a scalpel and slashed her own throat. (BEAT) My Lord, your wife and child are dead!
- MACBETH: She… she killed herself? And the baby?
- DOCTOR: My Lord… I am so sorry for your loss.
- MACBETH: It… it’s alright. I’m sure you did all you could. And her cry at the end?
- DOCTOR: Clearly the ravings of delirium, my Lord. She was obviously not in her right mind.
- MACBETH: Too true. Doctor. I’m glad you found the courage to tell me these things. I appreciate hearing the news from someone who cared so much for her. In fact I intend to reward you with…
- SOUND: LASER FIRE – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: (WITH CONTEMPT)…the only reward worthy of a coward. (BEAT) I know you’re there, my Chief of Spies, hovering about. Come out where I can see you.
- SPY: Yes, your majesty. And do you intend to kill me as well?
- MACBETH: No. Your hands are as steeped in blood as my own. I have nothing to fear from you. In fact, you may be the only man in the empire of whose loyalty I can be completely certain.
- SPY: It is my intention to stay by you to the end, your Majesty.
- MACBETH: And I am glad to hear it. Now, clean this up and have my ship prepared.
- SPY: Do you intend to run, my Lord?
- MACBETH: Run? Don’t make yourself out to be a fool, now, man. I am going to take my wife’s body and that of my son into the asteroid belt. I have nothing to fear, here. Dunsinane is self-sufficient. It cannot be blockaded and the encircling asteroid field has always stood as its first and greatest defense – no fleet may pass through it, and so they must come at us through a narrow opening in it, one that allows us to pick them off like fish in a barrel – and the asteroid field has other significance for me besides. I wish to commit my wife and child to the deep, where their bodies will not be molested by my enemies.
- SPY: Yes, your Majesty. I will see to it immediately.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: POLITE MURMUR – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- MALCOLM: Welcome gentlemen. I’m glad you could all join us.
- OTHERS: Thanks, Prince Malcolm. Thankyou. Etc.
- MALCOLM: I should begin by saying how much I appreciate the risks you have taken to join me. All of you were former generals in my father’s army. Your loyalty to him and his line does you credit. And you have all risked much to join me here today.
- MACDUFF: Aye. And paid dearly in more than a few cases.
- MALCOLM: We will see your family avenged for the Emperor’s actions, General Macduff. He will not go unpunished.
- OTHERS: (MURMURS OF ASSENT). Mmm. Mmmhmm. Yes. Etc.
- MALCOLM: But victory will not come cheaply. Dunsinane has never fallen. There is a reason that it is both fortress and capital to the empire. The asteroid field of Birnham is impassable to our great fleet. The only way through is a gap barely 30 miles wide. We are bound to take heavy losses bringing the fleet through there. It will be like shooting fish in a barrel.
- OTHERS: (MURMURS)
- ANGUS: What of the aliens? Will they help us?
- MALCOLM: No. This is our fight. They offered me sanctuary and, I believe, wish us no harm. They provided assistance to Macdonwald’s rebellion but did so in response to incursions into their territory by my father. If we respect their borders, they will leave us in peace. They will not, however, take part in our civil war.
- MACDUFF: Even without the alien armada, we have the numbers now. Enough planets have joined us to make the victory possible.
- ANGUS: And many of those who could not bring themselves to participate in open rebellion have made it clear they will not put any impediment in our way. They certainly won’t be going to the Emperor’s aid.
- MALCOLM: So, he is isolated. We have numbers and truth on our side. But he is extremely well fortified. I won’t lie to you. We are going to lose many men in this enterprise.
- ROSS: Perhaps not.
- MALCOLM: Ross?
- ROSS: I have an idea. Something that the Emperor said to me once, back when he was still just a lowly General. I think I have a means by which we can make every fighter in our fleet the equal of a battleship…
- OTHERS: (MURMURS OF INTEREST).
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: HUM OF FIGHTER ENGINE – ESTABLISH AND UNDER
- SOUND: EXPLOSIONS OF ASTEROIDS CRASHING TOGETHER – BACKGROUND UNDER.
- MACBETH: (SUBDUED) Well, here we are Gruoch, in the Birnham Asteroid belt, and here I will release your body to the stars. You will embrace my son, and the two of you will be embraced in turn by this field. I can’t imagine what drove you to this madness, but know that I loved you both… And know that my enemies will beg for a forgiveness I will never grant them in light of this grief or I will go down in ignominy, though I strived to seize the moment by main force.
- SOUND: BEEPS – HISS OF AIRLOCK RELEASE – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: Farewell, my love. There is one more stop I wish to make before I return to Dunsinane to seal my fate. I will find the oracles that spoke to me when first I came this way with Banquo. I will find them and wring from them the outcome of this fight. I will know if this has all been for naught.
- SOUND: RATTLING BEGINS AND INCREASES – UNDER.
- MACBETH: Ah, here it is. Come on, you ghosts, show yourselves! I want to talk with you.
- SOUND: RATTLING INCREASES FOLLOWED BY SHOOP OF RIP SWALLOWING MACBETH – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: And here I am again. But where are you, you filthy demons of the spaceways?
- PRIOR: You became Emperor. You spilled a river of blood.
- MACBETH: I did. I did what was necessary to secure my place in history, for good or ill.
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) You are preparing for battle. You do not intend to give up.
- MACBETH: I do not. I have lost this chance at dynasty, true, but there may be others.
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) We will tell you of the future…
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) For that is why you are here.
- MACBETH: Yes. Tell me. Will I be victorious? Will I win in the end?
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) No-one yet born,…
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Nor any who ever will be born,…
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) Can take your life.
- ULTERIOR: (BEAT) Dunsinane will never fall until Birnham Asteroid field crashes upon it’s surface.
- MACBETH: Ha ha! Then I am safe. I cannot be killed by any born to life and this field has floated here in space since time immemorial. It will remain here, the greatest defense of Dunsinane, long after my time is up. (BEAT) I do not know what manner of things you are, nor what motive has driven you to set me on this path. Perhaps I would have been happier without it, but I thank you anyway.
- PRIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) You have thanked us.
- EXTANT: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) We are thanked.
- ULTERIOR: (OVER COMMUNICATOR ALIEN VOICE) And we will see you again, one last time.
- SOUND: SHOOP OF RETURN TO NORMAL SPACE – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: I am three times reassured. I will not be killed. The planet will not fall. And I will see them once more. These are better tidings than I had hoped for. And now, to marshal my forces for war.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: HUM OF SPACESHIP ENGINES – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- MACDUFF: Malcolm, I really don’t like this plan of yours.
- MALCOLM: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Don’t tell me you’re feeling scared, Macduff. Not now that the action is about to begin.
- MACDUFF: Of course I’m scared. Any man who is willing to attempt what we’re about to attempt would be a fool not to acknowledge his fear. We’re heading into the gap through the Birnham Asteroid field. Every projection we’ve run has indicates at least 70% losses to our forces coming in.
- MALCOLM: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) There’s still time to turn back. I won’t think anything less of you.
- MACDUFF: Don’t be daft, your majesty. I’m concerned about you, not me. Without you, there will be no-one suitable to put on the throne. We’ll be back where we started, without anyone who holds a legitimate claim.
- MALCOLM: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) There is the princess Fleance. She was named successor by Macbeth, true, but, as you and I have both come to learn, she will make a worthy empress.
- MACDUFF: (SLYLY) Aye, and I’ve noticed that the two of you have rarely been apart since she joined us in alien space.
- MALCOLM: A fact I will trust you to not mention again, MacDuff. You said it yourself. The area we’re entering is lethal. I couldn’t ask any man to fly into this hell without being willing to go myself. I’m sending a great many men in here to die, just to create a diversion for our main attack. It is essential that we commit enough lives to this assault to convince the Emperor that this is our main force.
- MACDUFF: I understand the strategy, and it does you credit that you want to fight beside your men where the risk is greatest… but couldn’t you just do what other monarchs do and tell the men how much you want to be with them? I mean, do you have to actually put yourself in harms way?
- MALCOLM: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) (WARNINGLY) Macduff…
- MACDUFF: Alright, alright. It was worth a try. We’ll be in range of their guns shortly. You’d best give the order to attack.
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
- MALCOLM: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Men, this is Malcolm, son of Duncan. The battle for Dunsinane is about to commence. The tyrant Macbeth is trusting to defenses that have never yet been defeated. But today we have a chance, a real chance, to put an end to his reign, one that we must buy with blood and sorrow. Trust to your guns, fight bravely, and take the battle to this murderer. Attack!
- SOUND: LASERS (MANY, MANY) – FADE OUT
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING – LET IT FINISH.
- SPY: Your highness, your Generals are gone. They’ve all either defected or deserted. Your personal troops, those who have served you from the beginning, are all that remain.
- MACBETH: It is of no consequence. My troops would be more than enough to defend Dunsinane, were there half as many of them.
- SPY: Yes, sire.
- CONTROLLER: The enemy fleet is entering the gap now, sir. They are about to begin their attack.
- MACBETH: Put them on the screen.
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: That’s quite the armada… but still not so large a force as I feared Malcolm and Macduff might raise. It will, indeed, be like shooting fish in a barrel. Let me address the troops.
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: Loyal soldiers of the empire, I address you now, not as your Emperor, but as a fellow warrior, one who has fought beside you in many a battle. We have been comrades in arms and I have been with you and have led you to many victories. I am not a superstitious man, but I have been touched by destiny. Prophecies have been given to me about this day. The same prophets that predicted my ascension to Cawdor and more recently to the throne of empire have spoken saying that none yet born, nor any who will be born, may take my life. Dunsinane itself will never fall until the asteroid field of Birnham itself falls upon us. Take heart, my brothers. Fight hard. The victory is ours. We have but to claim it. Commence your attack upon the invading fleet.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: SHIPS ENGINES – LET IT FINISH.
- ANGUS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) The battle has been joined, General Ross. How long must we wait before we can begin our part?
- ROSS: The bulk of our small fighters have made it through the asteroid field to its edge and are hidden with us. We need only wait for the Emperor to commit his forces to defending against the prince’s attack upon the gap before we begin our part in this.
- ANGUS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) Ross, this strategy of yours…
- ROSS: … will work. So long as the Emperor’s busy with the main force, he’ll never see it coming. Wait, there he goes. He’s redirected the orbital cannons to take up positions defending against the attack on the gap. We’re ready to go.
- ANGUS: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) On your mark, General Ross.
- SOUND: BEEP – LET IT FINISH.
- ROSS: General Ross to all ships, use your tractor beams to bring an asteroid with you out of the field. We are going to engage in a planetary bombardment. Every ship is to accelerate an asteroid ahead of them onto the planet. The falling asteroids should provide us with sufficient cover to take out the planetary defences. The Emperor will be forced to surrender… or die. Either way, this civil war will have been brought to an end.
- SOUND: WHOOSHES OF ASTEROIDS BEING LAUNCHED – FADE OUT.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: INTERMITANT EXPLOSIONS – ALARMED MURMUR OF COMMUNICATIONS OFFICERS – ESTABLISH AND UNDER.
- CONTROLLER: (PANICKED) The asteroid strikes are occurring planet wide, your highness. It appears the enemy sent the bulk of its small attack ships and fighters through the asteroid field in order to launch a surprise attack. We’ve lost most of our orbital defenses and a large number of our battleships and other fleet vessels. Many of our ground defenses have been destroyed due to the asteroid strikes. This bombardment is as effective as any heavy ship-mounted artillery known to us.
- SOUND: BIG EXPLOSION – LET IT FINISH.
- CONTROLLER: That was our communications array. We’ve lost our ability to talk with our fleet. Your highness, I think the battle is effectively over.
- MACBETH: You coward! This is not over.
- CONTROLLER: You said yourself that when the Birnham Asteroid field came crashing into Dunsinane, then Dunsinane would fall…
- MACBETH: No. No! We are not done yet.
- SPY: Your majesty… I think I may have a solution that will yet gain you the victory.
- MACBETH: Yes? What is it? What do you have in mind?
- SPY: Come with me to the throne room sire. You had best see this for yourself.
- MACBETH: Alright. The rest of you, keep working to get the communications back up and running.
- CONTROLLER: Yes, sire.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS – FADE OUT.
- MUSIC: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: FOOTSTEPS – FADE IN.
- MACBETH: Now, what is this plan of yours? What is it that…
- SOUND: PHUT OF DART STRIKING – LET IT FINISH.
- MACBETH: (GRUNTING) Ugh! What have you done?
- SPY: Come this way, my liege. I think it best if you sit down. Yes, that’s right, over here on your throne. The paralytic will render you immobile very shortly and I don’t fancy trying to shift your carcass once the poison has taken effect. There you are.
- MACBETH: Mmmmpf. Mmmmm-mmmmmmpf.
- SPY: Oh, look. It is fast acting isn’t it? I’m afraid I lied to you a little about having a solution for you, sire. The fact is, the battle really is lost. It’s only a matter of time before your enemies launch the ground assault. But before they find you I have one final commission to fulfil.
- SOUND: CLANKING OF MACHINE – LET IT FINISH.
- SPY: I suppose you can see this thing, yes? (BEAT) Yes, your eyes are still responding. I’m guessing they are about the only things in your body that still are, aside from your heart and lungs of course. This rather nasty looking machine I’m carrying is about to go over your head. There we are. You see I was told that if I wanted to live, I would have to kill you at some point. That prophecy of yours was rather interesting. “No-one yet born or yet to be born” could kill you. But of course, you’re forgetting that I’m a clone… and an assassin… and an assassin always fulfils a contract.
- SOUND: BEEP – POWER-UP SOUND – THEN SLICING SOUND – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: METALLIC CLUNK ON FLOOR – LET IT FINISH.
- SPY: Now I have no idea why they wanted me to collect your head this way, but then who am I to question my employer? The body I’ll leave here for your enemies shall I? But I’d better get a move on if I’m to escape what’s about to happen. Come-on. (GRUNTS) This is a lot heavier with your head in it. (BEAT) There we are. Let’s go.
- SOUND: SCENE ENDER – LET IT FINISH.
- SOUND: SHOOP OF ENTERING ALIEN SPACE – LET IT FINISH.
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) You removed Macbeth’s head?
- SPY: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) He is dead.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) No, he is not.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) We will take it from you.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) It is a trophy. It marks our success.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) We will look after it now.
- SPY: (OVER COMMUNICATOR) But why?
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) That is no concern of yours. Only that we have given you your life.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) Return to your new Emperor. Serve him. He will have much for you to do in coming days.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) But do not forget us.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) We may call upon you again some day.
- SOUND: SHOOP OF SPY BEING RETURNED TO NORMAL SPACE – LET IT FINISH.
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) We won. Malcolm was implanted with our technology. As was Fleance and Macduff.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) Others will be our puppets also. The humans will not be able to resist us.
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) The victory is ours. Their new Emperor is under our control…
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) and shortly, they will have a new Empress to share his throne. We will enslave them…
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE)…as we have enslaved so many others.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) Place the head on the shelf and activate it.
- SOUND: BEEP AND POWER UP – LET IT FINISH
- MACBETH: What’s happening? Where am I?
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) You are a trophy. The spoils of war.
- MACBETH: I can’t feel my hands. I can’t… what is this place?
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) It is our trophy room. The place in which we house…
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) Those we have defeated in the past.
- ULTERIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) You will be here forever.
- MACBETH: No. I should be dead. Let me die!
- EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICE) Don’t cry out. You’ll wake the others.
- MACBETH: Others?
- PRIOR: (ALIEN VOICE) All those we have defeated in similar fashion.
- ULTERIOR, PRIOR, EXTANT: (ALIEN VOICES)(LAUGHTER FADES) Hahahahahaha!
- MACBETH: No. You’ve damned me. I’m damned. I’m daaaamned.
- VOICES: (ECHOING) We’re damned. We’re daaaamned.
- MUSIC: CLOSING THEME AND CREDITS – LET IT FINISH.
There’s no reason that any of the major (non-lead) 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.
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?
LADY MACBETH (SMART, AMBITIOUS, RUTHLESS AND A LITTLE PRONE TO PARANOIA): Do I know you? Who sent you? The palace is full of gossips and weaklings; small-minded women who plot and scheme. I’ll not be taken for one of those simpletons. Return to your master or mistress and give them this message – you’ll pick up no juicy tid-bits of gossip from me… But have a care. If I ever find you snooping around my apartments again, I will have the skin off your back as an example of what happens to those who cross me. The only one of you to whom I’d give the time of day is my cousin, Marissa. Why she married that bumbling fool, Macduff, is quite beyond me.
MALCOLM (SON OF DUNCAN – YOUNG, IDEALISTIC, BRAVE): Ah, thankyou. It’s easy to take for granted the things that people do for me. Growing up in a palace, despite all the training in arms and battle, can make me forget how sheltered I’ve really been. It’s easy to take for granted the army of servants who have been on hand to watch over and look after me. So, thankyou. Your work is appreciated.
SPY (CRUEL, CALCULATING, MERCENARY, AND IRONIC IN NATURE, OFTEN COMES ACROSS AS LACONIC AND FASHIONABLY BORED WITH EVERYTHING): Oh, there you are. I rather forgot about you for a moment there. It’s the work you see. The Emperor depends on me for so much. Like right now, he’s depending on me to loosen your lying tongue. Now, now. Don’t struggle with your bonds. You’ll need your energy to speak after I begin pushing these needles beneath your finger nails. Oh, don’t worry, we’ve got all the time in the world. And I do like to be very thorough in my interrogations.
MACDUFF (SLOW OF THOUGHT, BUT STEADY AND PERSISTENT. NOT A NATURALLY SMART MAN, BUT DOGGED IN FINDING THE TRUTH, AND A GOOD MAN BESIDES): They say, that given enough time, I can see through a solid wall. I guess that’s a compliment. I do tend to mull things over until I’ve got the measure of them, no matter how long it takes me. Little things, inconsistencies and the like, these worry at me and nag me until I get to the bottom of them. I’m not really cut out for politics – I can’t stand the double talk – but I’m a loyal man and I can get things done. These traits still count for something in these troubled times.
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.
Though often written as men, there is, however, no necessity for any of the following roles to be cast as any particular gender.
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.
ADVISORS (GENERIC SYCOPHANTS): If I could just get the Emperor’s ear, then I’d show them. My idea for a mandatory tax on beards would revolutionize our revenues. I just have to get noticed.
VOICES (AN ARRAY OF DISEMBODIED HEADS, INSANE, WAILING): Help meee! We’re doooomed. We’re daaaaamned! Help meeee!
DOCTOR (SYCOPHANTIC, OILY, AND PUFFED UP): The Emperor is lucky to have me on his staff, and he trusts me implicitly. After all, I take care of his most intimate needs. Eh? Well, no, he doesn’t actually speak to me, but I did get to compliment him on the fine polish of his boots the other day.
ANGUS (A GENERIC STRONG, NO-NONSENSE, WARRIOR GENERAL WHO CONCENTRATES ON GETTING THE JOB AT HAND DONE): Alright, the troops are in position. When the guns are charged and ready I’ll give the order to attack. (BEAT) Attack!
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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This post and all its content is copyright © 2013 Philip Craig Robotham and has been released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) license. This play cannot be reproduced, shared, or performed commercially without the written permission of the author. The production of derivative content, merchandise, or creative works and materials is expressly forbidden under this agreement. However you may share, reproduce, and perform this play freely so long as authorship is acknowledged, no money changes hands, and the play is not modified in any way.