The Folger Shakespeare Library and our publishing partner, Simon & Schuster Audio, hope you enjoy these excerpts from our audio performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This production was performed by the professional actors of Folger Theatre, in consultation with the editors of The Folger Shakespeare. The Folger Shakespeare Macbeth audiobook is available on a wide variety of audiobook platforms.
Act 3, scene 4
As Macbeth’s banquet begins, one of Banquo’s murderers appears at the door to tell Macbeth of Banquo’s death and Fleance’s escape. Returning to the table, Macbeth is confronted by Banquo’s ghost, invisible to all but Macbeth. While Lady Macbeth is able to dismiss as a momentary fit Macbeth’s expressions of horror at the ghost’s first appearance, the reappearance of the ghost and Macbeth’s outcries in response to it force Lady Macbeth to send all the guests away. Alone with Lady Macbeth, Macbeth resolves to meet the witches again. He foresees a future marked by further violence.
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Act 4, scene 1
Macbeth approaches the witches to learn how to make his kingship secure. In response they summon for him three apparitions: an armed head, a bloody child, and finally a child crowned, with a tree in his hand. These apparitions instruct Macbeth to beware Macduff but reassure him that no man born of woman can harm him and that he will not be overthrown until Birnam Wood moves to Dunsinane. Macbeth is greatly reassured, but his confidence in the future is shaken when the witches show him a line of kings all in the image of Banquo. After the witches disappear, Macbeth discovers that Macduff has fled to England and decides to kill Macduff’s family immediately.
Act 4, scene 3
Macduff finds Malcolm at the English court and urges him to attack Macbeth at once. Malcolm suspects that Macduff is Macbeth’s agent sent to lure Malcolm to his destruction in Scotland. After Malcolm tests Macduff and finds him sincere, Malcolm reveals that Edward, king of England, has provided a commander (Siward) and ten thousand troops for the invasion of Scotland. Ross then arrives with the news of the slaughter of Macduff’s entire household. At first grief-stricken, Macduff follows Malcolm’s advice and converts his grief into a desire to avenge himself on Macbeth.
Macbeth—Ian Merrill Peakes
Lady Macbeth—Rachael Holmes
Lady Macduff—Karen Peakes
Banquo—Richard Sheridan Willis
All other parts were played by members of the company.
Eric Shimelonis—Sound Design and Music Composition
Katharine Pitt—Production Assistant
David Polk—General Manager
Adam Stamper at Omega Recording Studios—Recording and Engineering
Michael Witmore—Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
Janet Alexander Griffin—Artistic Producer
Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine—Editors, Folger Editions
In partnership with Simon & Schuster Audio