Sound Design Home

Actors' Shakespeare Project

Fall 2007

Directed by Adrianne Krstansky

Scene Design by Susan Zeeman Rogers

Lighting Design by Jeff Adelberg

Costume Design by Anna-Alisa Belous

Music and Sound Design by David Wilson

All music © David Wilson 2006-2016 All Rights Reserved

Out of the atmosphere a bodran drum, a cawing bird, babies cry, a woman weeps, fade into the sound of the witches.


    My entry into Macbeth was discovering the sound of the witches and the supernatural power that drive the events of the play. I equated the witches with the animal imagery of the play – raw, naked voracious beasts, cunning predators and annoying parasites. Another aural image was a baby’s cry (the macbeth’s dead child, or the descendents of Banquo that take the throne, in spite of Macbeth’s determination to defy the prophecy). I wanted Macbeth’s inner sound to include a gnawing, scratching element as these thoughts of murder creep into his head. I built several instruments and assembled sounds with these characteristics, recorded live scratching on wood, swishing branches (premonition of Birnam Wood moving on Dunsinane) rubbing metal and scratching drums. This production by Actors’ Shakespeare project featured an all female cast. Lady Macbeth was portrayed as a very controlling obsessive-compulsive. Her castle is ordered and pristine, and as this madness seeps into her life, the breakdown becomes evident in her appearance and state of her orderly home. For Lady Macbeth I composed a number of pieces using a pizzicato string section – connecting her OCD tendencies to the sharp, rigid rhythmic structure of the pizzicato sound. These pieces were played for transitions and woven into other underscoring cues. The choreography for the fights and violence in this production was stylized – no swords or daggers or hand-to-hand combat. All the violence had a rhythm to it – from the point of view of the murderer - that there is a build up of energy as the adrenaline rushes into the system, to draw on the physical and mental faculties to kill, but that there is a pause, before the final thrust, where the killer’s eyes meet the victim, and this pause, this silence, is the true terror of the moment. Another aural image that filtered into the design was a baby’s cry (the Macbeth’s dead child, or the descendents of Banquo that take the throne, in spite of Macbeth’s determination to defy the prophecy).

Lady Macbeth's Themes


Duncan's Banquet

Macbeth hosts Duncan, a banquet to celebrate their victory

Duncan's Murder

Banquo's Murder

In Complete darkness, the sound of the murderer's footsteps approach.

From offstage the raw internal animalistic rage of Macbeth is unleashed on Duncan.

Lady Macduff's Murder

The Murderers approach Lady Macduff and her small child, bind, torture, and set them on fire.