The Scottish Play - A collection of Posters
Updated: Jul 24
Last month I started a project on one of my all time favorite Shakespearean plays -
The Tragedy of Macbeth.
Needless to say it is an absolute miracle that I managed to finish the project. It is a collection of five posters in letter size for a hypothetical production named
"All Hail Macbeth"
Read about my thought process and interpretation down below.
"That shalt be king hereafter"
This is the first poster of the series, it introduces the style and language and sets the tone for the rest of the poster. Macbeth has been depicted here as a big brute of a man. His face is more skull like than human, long worn by the battles of his youth. His hair and beard are unruly and shows he doesn't care much for his appearance. It is the face of a man who has not known kind days for a long time. His eyes have sunk back into the sockets, but the fire of ambition still burns. I have imagined the wing spread raven to be the sigil of House Macbeth, for the raven is dark and cruel and shrewd of nature.The Raven is the first bird mentioned in the Bible, it is also an omen of death and evil power. The crown that sits on his head is brighter in comparison to his looks, yet it is incomplete.
It is not well carved out, there are no jewels.
It feels empty and hollow in true sense of the word.
"Make thick my blood."
This is the second poster of the series. Lady Macbeth has the same posture and look as Macbeth. Her eyes gleam from the dark sockets, and her face is ever so slightly turned, guarding her ambition and secrets. It must be noted here that while Macbeth was looking sideways her view is completely straight, her gaze fixed upon the object of her desire. Her visage is also split into two halves the dark and the light. This is to show that although she shows her tender and motherly nature to Duncan she is hiding a much darker and cruel self beneath.
Her crown is improper and looks smokey in comparison to the previous one of Macbeth. This is because unlike Macbeth's stature her position as a queen is yet only an idea born out of her malicious thoughts.
Her bosom and dress is hidden from sight as she goes on to exclaim:
"That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
Th’ effect and it. Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murd’ring ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief. Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry ‘Hold, hold!’ "
The idea is to "unsex" her and bring the focus to her glaze and her eyes gleaming from the depths of darkness, beckoning the night to come forth.
"By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes."
I did not want to make them disfigured or outwardly terrible. I always imagined that they were very beautiful but weird in their disposition. I have drawn them with a different texture unlike lady Macbeth and Macbeth, this is because I have imagined them to be of a different world. Their powers and knowledge extend beyond the realm of the known.
The witches three or the weird sisters as they are sometimes referred are illustrated as follows, there's two twins and a third, she is the eldest. The twins represent the duality of magic, the push and the pull, the ying and yang, cause and effect, the third sister is the reflection of human desire/passion.
They emerge from the cauldron itself, this is done to show that they share the same form as the apparitions, beyond the control and comprehension of mortal men. The contents of the cauldron are unknown but the feathers are of the raven. It may mean Macbeth is being cooked (roasted) over a slow flame.
The cauldron is three legged a reference to the three witches, three apparitions as well as an inverted crown. One devoid of compassion, goodness and a just monarch, one that they bestow upon Macbeth.
"Out, out, brief candle!"
The central object of this poster the candle and the swindling smoke is a visual interpretation of the following lines:
"Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing."
The candle is dark and pitch black representing the little that is left of Macbeth and his soul is buried deep underneath the sediment of lost hopes and failed ambition. There is almost a tiny minuscule raven feather at the wick, this symbolizes the journey is at the very end, the House of Macbeth has been consumed by the flames of fate. The figure at the end of the smoke is that of a monarch, whose sex has been left ambiguous intentionally. The figure is on all fours, crawling in advance. The style of the poster is different in this one, its a departure from the human/humanoid figures into something apparently non animate. This has been done to portray a scene of utter loneliness, desolation and despair.
"Out, damned spot; out, I say."
The last poster of the series is also the most abstract one. There are several layers of meaning behind the images depicted.
Firstly the imaginary spot of blood that Lady Macbeth sees on her hands, the one she vehemently tries to rub out only to find it imprinted permanently. In this depiction however it is not just a spot. The hands are charred and soaked with blood, the bones are showing, the veins have turned into a murky mixture. Guilt is dripping from the damaged hands. Lady Macbeth is in hell.
Secondly the hands lack the distinct texture and vividness of flesh shown in the previous posters. This can mean it is not a pair of real hands, they are not fully formed. Crafted from the material of nightmares they resemble the darkest fears of their owner. Upon closer inspection it can be seen that the hands are trying to grasp an object at the very center. It is a tiny raven feather, the tiniest we see yet. The unmaking of the raven (House of Macbeth) is thus completed.
The tiny hands in the background are faint and almost erased but they still exist. In my depiction they belong to the hands of an unborn child, the cause of grief and sorrow for the House of Macbeth. They may also represent hands of innocence (notice the lighter shade and blemish-less appearance), that was brutally murdered in the pursuit of power.
Thank you for reading.
Let me know if you liked this project.
If you want to order these posters do send me an e-mail.