Apr/May 2013 Miscellaneous

The Power: The Rise of Lady Macbeth

by Lauren Lundgren Christy

Artwork by Clinton McKay

Artwork by Clinton McKay


Some of this is uncertain, as far as authenticated history goes. I include it so that past injuries and other references to family members within this telling make sense to the reader; it is also good source material for actors working on character development, or for anyone who wants to get the feel of the time.

Succession: In medieval Scotland the first high King was a Pict who united the Caledonians (Scots) and the Picts in 843 AD. During his reign, he instituted a rule of succession (Tanistry), which held that nobles of Caledonia (Roman name for the land north of Hadrian's Wall) were to marry Pictish princesses, and that both peoples' traditions were to be honored. The Picts traditionally willed titles and estates to the first born daughter, making Pictish kings royal consorts, rather than kings by birth right. The Caledonians designated their successors from among noble families, usually not their own sons; designated rulers had to be confirmed in their succession by other nobles and high clergy. Under Tanistry, all who were noble by Caledonian birthright and by marriage into Pictish royalty were in the running to be chosen as the High King's successor. The historical Macbeth was a grandson on his mother's side to King Malcolm II, and cousin to Lady Macbeth's first husband. She was also grandchild of a high King, Kenneth III. There were ongoing struggles against Norse invaders and among the Scots clans. Macbeth was regarded as a fierce and successful warrior in his earlier life, and as a just and generous king during his 17-year reign.

Religion: Although Christianity came to Britain during the 5th Century, while it was still part of the Roman Empire, Caledonia remained independent of Rome and continued to practice the old religion of the Celtic Picts until sometime in the 11th Century, about when this story takes place.

Daily Life: Medieval Scotland was mostly agrarian. Cereal crops included wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Vegetables included kale, cabbage, onions, leeks, peas, beans, turnips, carrots, and skirrets (a root vegetable similar to sweet potatoes). Plants such as wild garlic, nettles, and watercress were probably gathered in the wild and part of the diet. The pastoral economy meant that hides and leather were readily available. Wool was the main source of fibers for clothing, and flax was also common, possibly used to spin into thread, for oil, and/or as a foodstuff. Fish, shellfish, seals, and whales were exploited along coasts and rivers. The importance of domesticated animals argues that meat and milk products were a major part of the diet of ordinary people, while the elite would have eaten a diet rich in meat from farming and hunting. Sheep, pigs, horses, and cattle were kept; falcons were used, uniquely to Scotland, for hunting, as well as dogs.1

Places and names have been Anglicized and/or changed for this piece.



Gruach (Mezzo 2)—Lady of Dórnaich, married to Laird Beaty. Late thirties.

Moraine (Mezzo 1)—Daughter & heiress of Laird Beaty, Stepdaughter of Gruach. Mid-teens.

Duncan (Tenor 1)—Heir Apparent to the High Throne of Scotland.

Macbeth (Baritone 1)—Earl of Moray. Mid-twenties.

Aileen (Mezzo 3)—A Noblewoman of Dórnaich.

Muira (Soprano)—A Noblewoman of Dórnaich.



Various castles, keeps, and strongholds in Northern Scotland. For simplicity's sake, it is suggested to change location through use of hanging banners with images of family crests.


Act I Dórnaich, Scotland 1031 A.D.

Scene 1 Gruach's Ambition

Lights up on Gruach's sitting room at Beaty Keep. The sound of the women speaking begins toward the end of the overture, although the actual words do not become clearly audible until the music dies down to percussion: the heartbeat of Beaty Keep. Lights up on two noble women, embroidery hoops in hand.

AILEEN    It is most gracious of Her Ladyship to have us in, with her Laird ailing so.

MUIRA    It must be wretched for her, rattling about in this great keep with only the old man and her servants for company.

AILEEN    Laird Beaty was quite charming in days gone, my mother tells me. Surely he makes a good companion still. (Muira makes a sound of ironic amusement.) And there is his daughter. She is nearly a woman grown.

MUIRA    Aye, she is of a marrying age by her woman's body, but what does she know of the world?

AILEEN    She knows enough to fasten her gaze upon Prince Duncan and gasp at his every jest at the tourney.

MUIRA    It does not take much womanliness nor worldliness to be drawn to his aspect. Fair of face, of limb, and of fortune...

AILEEN    ...if the High King actually do appoint him his successor.

MUIRA    Little Moraine is no empty flirt. In her hand is County Beaty and all the coin minted of the fisheries, in her ripe body the promise of many heirs. The High Grandsire is doubtless full of Moraine, even while she find Duncan's pouch flat.

AILEEN    The Prince's pouch is full to bursting for any pretty Penny, it cannot be long to spill open for My Lady Mor—

Lady Gruach enters with serving women carrying platters of tea and refreshments, which the servants distribute as the noble women socialize.

GRUACH    Welcome to Beaty Keep, my ladies.

MUIRA    Thanks to you, Lady Gruach. You grace us with your company.

AILEEN    And the fine entertainment you bestow upon us.

GRUACH    You are most welcome both to break with us our solitude and our bread.

AILEEN    How fairs the Laird?

GRUACH    He bears his ills most bravely, and with humor good as may be hoped.

MUIRA    Does he repair to Your Ladyship's content?

GRUACH    We wish him well entirely, but that is not our lot. He will continue ill to the end.

MUIRA    I tender hope that his suffering end, yet his Lairdship endure.

GRUACH    We thank you. We share your hope, and likewise fear it is barren.

AILEEN    (Taking a bite.) No house offers such salmon pasties!

MUIRA    This is fit for the Mother and the Christ. He must indeed smile on My Lady's fishermen.

GRUACH    We are favored, as you say, in the Firth of Dórnaich, whether we sail on the grace of Christ or on the backs of kelpies. (Dismisses servants.)

AILEEN    One may pray these hundred years and have small answer from Laird Jesus.

MUIRA    Even so. I pray most often to Mother Mary and still cannot accustom myself to the ways of this new church.

GRUACH    I hold to my faith in Donnagh—but sacrifice to her and say the words, and She give power to the will. (Laughing.) Or if my mood is more martial, I raise a spear to Maeve.


We work our will by words or war
Depending each on inclination

She begins spinning finely carded wool into yarn; her words become hypnotic, and her companions' voices and actions become mechanical.

We work our wool by woof and warp
Distending thread 'cross machination
Distaff, gather hair of lamb
To spin a yarn of subjugation

Aileen and Muira have fallen into trance state; lights up on Moraine in her room, at her loom. She watches the others in a crystal as she weaves.


GRUACH sings:

My liege and laird remember well,
Thy lips be sealed, and tongue lie still,
You must obey thy mistress' will:
To Gruach grant thy lands to till,
Thy earthly goods, thy noble seal.
To daughter not a quill or gill;
Moraine ungift of glen and hill;
Unname her now in thy last will.


MORAINE sings:

By right of birth I hold this hearth!
From mothers gone to girls unborn Dórnaich belongs.
To me and mine Dórnaich belongs, Dórnaich belongs.
The town, the crown, the very ground to me and mine belong.

GRUACH sings:

Prince Duncan, with this glove of fox and bloom of star
To me I call your blood and heart:
Athamé cut three fronds of fern,
Of wort of moon and adder's tongue.2
To these I add three dead man's bones
Brought up to air from under stones,
I throw them onto oaken coals
That they may burn into his soul
My face and form, my face and form, my face and form.


Awake, Desire, from boney fire,
And draw his thoughts to me, to me, to me.
And turn his foot to me, to me, to me.
And give his heat to me, to me, to me.

Moraine slams the shed on her loom down as Gruach removes the distaff from her spinning wheel and strikes it on the floor; Aileen and Muira drop their embroidery hoops in turn, making three sounds to bind the spell. Gruach goes to Aileen, and touching her on the forehead, brings her back to herself.

GRUACH    My dear, you have dropped your hoop! (Goes to Muira.) And you as well.

AILEEN    I'd raise a spear to Maeve, if sweet, pretty Duncan would raise his staff for me!

MUIRA    You would be the prince's sheep? I would be a tinker's dam before one of Duncan's flock.

GRUACH    Men have their spears and staves, we have our songs. That is the way of things. Have your falcons bred yet?

MUIRA    My Airdonna hatched three weeks since. The nestlings are just going from down to feather.

AILEEN    Our Peregrine laid four eggs, but would not sit. And then came another two. At last she went to brood. All came forth well enough, but the poor merlin3 is ragged with feeding so many. I fear he will not hunt this season.

Moraine listens to the idle chatter, and as Gruach's scene fades out, she explodes into her aria.

BY RIGHT OF BIRTH (continues as a solo)

MORAINE sings:

By right of birth I hold this hearth!
From mothers gone to girls unborn Dórnaich belongs.
To me and mine Dórnaich belongs, Dórnaich belongs.
The town, the crown, the very ground to me and mine belong.
My land and name are the mere start!
She too would have my Duncan's heart.
For me he's meant, and for MY bed,
He cannot go to her instead!
Father, please, pass her for me.
Duncan turn your eye and foot to me, to me, to me.


Scene 2 The Start of the Affair

Gruach and Duncan, in bed, post-coital. She pulls on a garment, starts to leave the bed.

GRUACH    I will be missed in my laird's chamber, we have dallied so long!

DUNCAN    (Holds her back.) Not missed nearly so sore as in your own chamber, sweetest. I have yet need of you.

GRUACH    Tongues will wag, my prince, if I do not attend Beaty according to my custom.

DUNCAN    My tongue would wag as well—to drink of you and sing the wonder of you and set you a-tingle, as I am, from root to crown.

GRUACH    (A bit aloof.) You are eager as a new-bearded boy. We must take care not to occasion the least scandal.

DUNCAN    Let them whisper in corners while the old man dies. I will wed you the instant he breathes his last, and then what has anyone to say?

GRUACH    That we sowed our seeds before the reaper had yet come for him. You are above rumor, sweetling, but I am not. Would you have me called a whore in my own keep?

DUNCAN    Never! I would that everyone adore you in the great hall and public square as I do in your chamber.

GRUACH    If we are to have pleasure of each other in private, it must be still as the grave throughout all the great world.

DUNCAN    I cannot withhold from you mind nor eye when you are near, nor I cannot bear to farther be from you than reach of arm.

GRUACH    Then you must leave Dórnaich at once. I would not have you raise suspicion with greedy glance or too familiar touch.

DUNCAN    Do not send me away!

GRUACH    You leave little to choose. Circumstance is as it is.

DUNCAN    Circumstances change.

GRUACH    We will meet again when they have.



Swept on inner tide to passion sublime
My will to wait is drowned;
No thing contain this grand desire of mine.
No thing, no hand, no public sound
Shall keep apart myself and my divine.


He withers as we blossom a-bed
Methinks a little shove
Will cast her/my laird untimely o'er the edge
We'll cut the bond that ties him to life
And just as fast we'll tie
A knot to bind us two as man and wife.

GRUACH (aside)

Caution [bind/wed]4 to speed in our endeavor,
Lest Moraine remain heir.
The land and Duncan will be mine forever


Our blood always a-fire
Our flesh will never tire
Passion climbing higher
Swept away by desire


Scene 3 Moraine Sent to Orkney

Courtiers are gathered in the Great Hall of Beaty Keep for a formal occasion. Gruach and Moraine stand together, Moraine just barely containing her displeasure. Laird Beaty seated, coughing weakly. Gruach signals for drums to begin; the courtiers fall silent. She raises a scepter and sings:


Good people of Dórnaich draw near
Give our words attentive ear
It please us on this day to post the ban
Giles MacRory take heart and hand
Moraine of Beaty, his to wed
To share from hence the Orkney bed
May she bring forth many a bairn
Bonny, brave, fit to hold the family cairn.

She bangs her scepter three times, then raises a goblet. She takes a sip and spills a bit on the floor,5 as servants circulate with drinks for all. The guests follow suit, drinking more than they spill, but honoring the letter of the custom. Musicians strike up a lively tune.

AILEEN    Best fortune, to you and your new laird, my lady.

MORAINE    His words are fair in letters I have from him. I hope his face is too.

AILEEN    I hear he is well disposed, although he is not often seen outside his walls.

MORAINE    His time is taken much with fending off the Norse, according to what he write. When he is not at battle, he is training with his men.

AILEEN    His sweet young wife will draw him out to more social sport.

MORAINE    There is, I hear, much sport in every quarter. Even as my father ails, I see Prince Duncan oft slipping a hand beneath surprising gowns.

AILEEN    What means my lady?

MORAINE    Gruach.





It is no news that bonny Duncan
Shoot looks that blaze at every she, great or small.
I would not so debase my name to partake
Of such common flame,
But not the same may be said of all.
My father's wife I have seen giggle and preen
When he is nigh, yes, even sigh and turn her eye
To him when she thinks none take note.
I see him slip from her chamber on many a day.
How they while away their time,
One may surmise but best not say.


Oh, not a word will ever I say
Of where or how Duncan pass the days.

Moraine turns away to signal for another drink, and while she is distracted Aileen turns to the person next to her and whispers. We see the word pass among the guests until it arrives at Muira.


I have heard that bonny Duncan
And the lady of the keep
Pass most every afternoon
In some pursuit that cause her to swoon
And him to stagger as he swagger
From her room.

The gossip continues around the room as Aileen and Muira circulate. They meet and sing:


The lady and the bonny prince
Do shake the rafters
Each and every afternoon
They fumble under skirt and kirt
And mumble soft and sweet
So indiscreet!

The gossip reaches Gruach's ears.

GRUACH    (Bangs her scepter; the music stops abruptly.) We thank you all for your attendance. We wish the betrothed godspeed, and now would take our leave. My Laird needs his rest. (To Servant.) Bring me word of who began this base tale. (Aside to audience.) We will soon know whose tongue needs trimming.



Scene 1 Moraine in Orkney

Moraine relaxes in a luxurious chamber of the MacRory Keep in Orkney.



Rather to my liking, this new situation
Me the darling and lady of the keep
One and all hark to every word I speak
And now, with child, I have untold valuation
To my man, to the folk, even to the sheep.

Handmaids and footmen all hasten to my bidding
Lift of an eyebrow brings anything I wish
Time to ramble, to sample a new dish
To muse all the day, while seamstresses are fitting
Fine new gowns for romancing, for dancing, to fish.

And who would have thought that Giles would so please me
Kind, amusing, generous to a fault
Loving in bed, when passing me the salt
I'm saddened for to do battle he must leave me
And gladdened to see him home again on his colt.

A servant enters with a message. Moraine reads, and her mood changes sharply.

MORAINE    How is this?! Poor Father, gone so hard upon the heels of my going? How convenient that he should pass such brief hour after leaving all to Gruach! And she, now free to dally as she please with Duncan.

Old King Malcolm had best look to his gruel, lest he find he is fallen into some mysterious grieving in his guts.

Moraine writes: (Recit)

O, Great High King Malcolm, it grieves me greatly to send this word
That my father and your kinsman, Laird Beaty of Dórnaich, has passed from this world.

I sorrow for the loss of him as deeply as I mourn the way of his going:
His death, though expected, do seem to me most untoward,
Following quick as a hawk upon my flight from his keep.
Father of late had much estranged been from himself and from me.
He broke with Tanistry, as you must know, and denied me title, lands, and goods
Which your very grandsire and ancient custom decree must pass to eldest girl-child.

Although these matters do cause my thoughts to turn suspicious,
Nothing of my these griefs is my present cause to you;
It is to warn you, Highness, of doings ill-done within our keep and kin.

Lights up on Gruach, who magically listens to Moraine's accusation.



Majesty and Cousin, there was talk at my betrothal
That Lady Gruach with Prince Duncan dallied
While Father still took air.
There were whispers of potions sent to the sick room
Followed by nights of spasm and painful emission.
My great King, I know not if any of this noise
Have merit or meaning.

In your wisdom, you will rightly know
If this be but grieving of daughter bereft
Or if it be well to look to your own
And take guard against unruly ambition
In those nearest Your Majesty
In Sorrow,
Lady Moraine Beaty MacRory of Dórnaich and Orkney

She seals the message and sends it off by pigeon. Lights shift to Gruach in her sitting chamber at Dórnaich. GRUACH slams down her scepter, enraged, as the pigeon flies away.


Scene 2 Gruach's Assassination Plot

IN SORROW (continues as a solo)


In Sorrow, indeed, shall you
Creep through your days,
My fine little lady of the North!
You think yourself safe
From my eye and my ways
Now learn what your haven is worth!


Come now, night,
And blind the sight of innocent day.
Good things of light now droop and fold,
While those whose swords are sold to me
Take wing to Orkney's wood
Come bloodthirsty, my invisible band
Swiftly go, in silence cross the land
Seek our drowsy prey, and light the torch
To scorch the way to hell.

Mercenaries enter, bewitched.

M1    We heed your call, Great Lady. We are here present to do your will.

GRUACH    I have raised a mist that will cloak your approach. Go now, swiftly, to Isle of Orkney, and dispatch Giles MacRory and all who live within his Keep. Leave none alive to tell the tale, and return just as swift to me.

Mercenaries exit. Lights cross fade back to Moraine.


Scene 3 The Fire

Moraine's pigeon returns to her, weary and covered with grime and soot.

MORAINE    Oh, now, my pretty. How bravely you have flown. (Feeds the pigeon berries and seeds, and pets her as she speaks.) Why so bedraggled? (Buries her face in the pigeon's breast.) Ah, so! Gruach has heard our message to Malcolm. (Rings for servant, who enters immediately.) Bring a basin of warm water.

Moraine looks into her crystal and sees the mist Gruach has raised. She makes a gesture, and the mist parts to reveal the murderous crowd approaching. The servant returns; Moraine puts the pigeon in the water to bathe itself.

MORAINE    (To servant.) Where is Laird Giles?

SERVANT    My Lady, he is just returned from scouting and speaks with his men in the barracks hall.

MORAINE    At the farthest end of his lands! Have the swiftest horse in the stables saddled and ready to run three minutes hence. And bring me another message bird. (Writes hastily and speaks.) Giles, my love, take heed, a hidden band comes from Dórnaich to besiege you.

She folds up message as servant returns with pigeon. She secures the message on the pigeon's leg, pulls its hood, and lets it fly.

MORAINE    Quickly, help me pack for a night on the moors.

Servant obeys; Moraine shoves her crystal into a box, grabs her cloak and a dirk, and rushes out, servant struggling to keep up.

Fire FX in the background, as we see Moraine and her servant in silhouette racing on horseback to warn Giles and his men. As she approaches the barracks, Moraine hears the cries of the burning men and draws up short, wheels around, and shouts.

MORAINE    With me now, girl, to Stormhouse Bay. A ship there is waiting!

Their silhouettes ride offstage. Lights up on a small dock with gangplank. Moraine and Servant enter on foot.

MORAINE    Quick, now, to ship. We must away before we are missed.

SERVANT    Where do we sail, My Lady?

MORAINE    To our kinsman in Moray.

The two women board; Moraine turns to look back at Orkney from the ship's deck.




Now you are for it, Gruach of the Grave
With this charm I take all that you treasure
No leisure nor pleasure shall ever more
Be yours.
Darkness, distress, now hound every breath
That you draw from this moment 'til I grant you
Your death!

Ship pulls away from the mooring.


Scene 4 Arrival at Nairn

Dawn. Moraine's boat lands; the women and sailors come ashore.

MORAINE    Captain, you go up to the castle at Nairn and give this message to Laird MacFindlay. Leave me a sword and a sailor, and take all the rest.

CAPTAIN    Aye, My Lady.

Moraine and her guard sit watchfully in the shadows of the dock.

GUARD    Fear not, My Lady. None shall get to you while yet I breathe.

MORAINE    I fear none that may lurk in this place; I shiver with cold and rage. I must get to a warm hearth as soon as may be for the sake of she I carry.

GUARD    Does My Lady wish me to make a fire?

MORAINE    Nay, there is no sense teasing fate. The fading night is our friend, now as welcome as the day's warmth will soon be.

Macbeth enters with several soldiers.

MACBETH    Little Moraine! As adventuresome yet as the summer you were nine.

MORAINE    Alas, Macbeth, it is no summer game washes me up on your shore. There were mercenaries sent to kill every soul of Orkney. They will go back on the hunt no sooner do they sniff out that I slipped their first trap.

MACBETH    Dear child, welcome to Moray. You and your retinue have my full protection until these wrongs are brought right.

MORAINE    I thank you with whole heart, my liege. (Teasing.) You may not find me such a child when I bring forth the child I carry now within.

MACBETH    Time ripens every fruit, I see, even those that grow wild. Can you ride, Little Mother?

MORAINE    I could always mount a horse my Little Laird. Now marriage has taught me to mount a man.

MACBETH    Married!

MORAINE    Aye, and widowed, too, before our first year.

MACBETH    My dear, what has happened? I would know all and break from knowledge to vengeance in two beats of my heart.

MORAINE    My father was bewitched by the wife he took when Mother passed. He fell ill on the night of their vows and never returned to himself. As he failed, he bequeathed all his goods and title upon this same wife, who, I am certain, wrought all his weakness, all the while cuckolding Papa with Prince Duncan. As soon as she was certain of the inheritance, she gave my troth to Giles MacRory and shipped me off to Orkney.

I found great happiness with Giles, and he with me, I think, most greatly when we found we had bred us a bairn. I learned but a few days past that Papa died before the week I sailed was out. I wrote to the High King to warn him to be wary of his ambitious princeling. I know not if Gruach intercepted my message to Malcolm or if she learned of it by her magick; all I know is that as my messenger flew back to her cage, murderers came creeping in the mist to burn Giles' barracks to the dirt, while all the warriors slept. I narrowly escaped to the boat moored at Stormhouse and sailed here to you.

MACBETH    We must get you warm, get you fed, and off to your bed until you have slept off this nightmare recently lived. As soon as you are strong and the baby has come, we will make to Inverness to bring these foul doings to Malcolm. (To his men) Bring us two horses.

Brief blackout; lights up on Macbeth's hall, he on his throne. Moraine enters, very pregnant.



My sweet Laird, you have coddled and kept me
All secure against those that bereft me.
I thank my sweet Laird who holds and protects me.
Your caring heart does resurrect me.


Moraine a-bloom in earliest flower
You hold me, too, with feminine power
From child to girl to woman to mother
I'd take you to wife, keep you as lover


By feeling joined, and fate,
As one shall we re-take
Our titles and estate
From bastards and dastards
Who us would separate


Scene 5 What Each Would Do with Power

Gruach's Chamber: she makes a wax image of King Malcolm. Twists the wax King and pours hot potion over it so it softens and loses shape, as Gruach casts a spell:




Now drain him dry as hay
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Come to soothe his weary frame
He shall stumble, stiff and lame
Wasting, over nine months' time,
Shall he dwindle, sweat, and pine:
Though his mind will not be lost
It shall wander, tempest tossed.




Let old Malcolm keep to bed
I shall also have my way
With each damsel, ev'ry dame
Mine by right as Scotland's head
Not in battle but in bed
I shall conquer lass and maid
Widow, virgin, blushing bride
All the women I shall ride




My Donnagh, my girl, I promise you this:
On knees shall they come for wisdom divine,
You'll hear every plea to bless or dismiss
According to your most regal design
My daughter shall have all power and reign
Destined for women from time before time.
With judgment and mercy she shall hold sway
From moment of birth to last living day.




In the field and out at sea
I shall e'er victorious be
Bow and arrow, sword and shield
Strength of arm will always wield.
Let my foes or run or yield
My savage ire they will feel.
In defense of realm or king
All attackers feel my sting.


Act III Inverness

Scene 1 The Dying King

Lights up on the Great Hall of Inverness. A servant idles in a bored way; another servant enters hurriedly.

SERVANT 1    His Majesty urgently seeks Prince Duncan. Where may he be found?

SERVANT 2    In his quarters, I'll be bound, but he will thank me with the whip for disturbing him. Know you the cause of urgency?

SERVANT 1    The king's sudden wasting is dire. Malcolm does espy his end roaring down upon him and needs designate and place seal upon the heir.

SERVANT 2    Secret words I have heard pass between the heir and Lady Gruach.

SERVANT 1    Think you milady have spun his majesty's malady?

SERVANT 2    The Dòrnish servants whisper she is a weird sister. I know not the truth on it, but none may beat me for suspicion.

SERVANT 1    Aye, best speak never a word of weirding if we would keep head on unstretched neck. (Sighs.) We will be for it once Duncan has the reign.

SERVANT 2    He does love overmuch the ride, whether to horse or yeoman's bride. Ah, me, at King's command I must rouse the stallion from his stale.

Lights shift to Duncan's quarters, where he, Aileen, and Muira are discovered.

CONQUEST IN BED Reprise/Variation


Come my pretties, to my bed


We will have a randy day


Romp and roll until replete
Pleasure full, our joy complete


We must please the realm's next head


Do not tarry, come to bed


Romp and roll until replete
Pleasure full, our joy complete
Pleasure full, our joy complete

Lights switch to Gruach, in her chamber, as she makes plans to marry Duncan.



Although my charm does still enthrall my puppy prince,
There are they who'd undo all, nay e'en convince
The malcontent ambitious Earls to take the throne.
I will not falter. Time has come to claim my own.
So off to altar, Duncan, dear.
Be a good lad and of good cheer.
And come my Maids of Honor, too.
See me off with husband two
While he make eyes of sheep at you
I shall be left alone to rule


Scene 2 Duncan's Haste

Armed sentries guard the Inverness Castle Gate, through which we see the open courtyard. Moraine enters with baby, nursemaid, and armed retinue.

SENTRY    Stand, and state your business.

MORAINE    I am Lady Macbeth, come to honor King Malcolm.

SENTRY    Malcolm is dead; long live King Duncan.

MORAINE    How long since Malcolm left us?

SENTRY    You have but missed him by a night, my Lady.

MORAINE    I must join the high court in vigil, then. Open to me, guard.

Sentry admits Moraine and company; one of her men lingers to gossip.

MORAINE'S MAN    Duncan is for the throne then?

SENTRY    Proclaimed in Malcolm's last hours, upon the throne at Malcolm's last breath, and to be crowned when piper plays Malcolm's last note.

MORAINE'S MAN    No time to speak of for the departed?

SENTRY    Oh, aye, the time between sun up and break of fast. Though speech spoke too loud or too fond could find speaker in irons.

MORAINE'S MAN    In irons? And the clans say nothing?

SENTRY    Mysteriously mute, since the MacDuff was flogged through the streets.

MORAINE'S MAN    Upon what cause?

SENTRY    Upon tankard raised in a tavern, "To King Malcolm, untimely taken to unnatural end."

Moraine's man slips through the gate and catches up with her party at the back of the courtyard where Duncan and Gruach preside from a balcony.

MORAINE'S MAN    My lady, this occasion is more grievous than grieving. Duncan begins in the way of a tyrant.

MORAINE    Get yourself some'at to eat, and slip off unseen to Macbeth. Get you a horse, ride as if hell followed hard, and tell my lord I said to bring his men without delay and ready for the fray. (Gives him some coins)

DUNCAN    (To the Noble kneeling before him.) What would you, Lord Cardiff?

CARDIFF    Leave to return to my Lady. She held for your grandsire great affection, and desires leave to name her next son for him.

DUNCAN    It would more behoove her name your boy Duncan. You may go to your keep after a wee stay in mine. Take him. (Rumblings of protest quickly silenced.) Any others ...?

MORAINE    (Showing herself.) I would have leave to speak, Highness.

Duncan and Gruach confer briefly.

DUNCAN    We are nearly kin by marriage and distant kin by blood. Come here to us, Moraine.

Moraine joins them on the balcony.

MORAINE    As Lady Macbeth of Moray and cousin to King Duncan's line, I call for a council! (Gruach gives a look, but before the men at arms can seize Moraine, several earls jump up to stand with her.) Your highness, I know it was your Grandsire's wish that you succeed him; I do not challenge it, but you also need confirmation from the council, whom I would as well address.

Supporter Earls shout assent. They assemble, and Moraine addresses them:



Good people, great and small,
Who dwell to North of Hadrian's wall
Since two hundred years gone by
MacAlpin's Tannist law decry
Kirk and court must condone
Who from henceforth shall sit the throne.
Duncan has already shown
His voice unfit to law intone.
Even if it is not true
That his will conjured King's ague,
The first word of his reign
Is "throw the peerage into chains."
If he treats equals so
What justice comes to those below?
There is no need to guess
How things would go under Macbeth.
He has ruled in Moray I
n peace, content, and harmony.
His troops are fed and fond
His yeomen trust his word as bond
People safe within his wall
Macbeth beloved and fair to all.
As well, our blood combined
Confer more right to here enshrine
Macbeth the only one
That you approve to sit the throne.

CROWD    Macbeth! All hail Macbeth!

They continue cheering and calling for Macbeth as they converge on Duncan, whose men protect him and Gruach.

DUNCAN    Good people! The council has cast its consent upon Macbeth. But throne may not empty stand, nor idle, until the king's arrival. May we have your vote that until the new king come my lady and I hold the seat?

Nobles and clearly pre-Christian clergy confer.

ELDER CLERIC    Will my lord stand down his men to but the least required to guard and defend the castle?

DUNCAN    Aye.

ELDER CLERIC    And release the nobles late confined below?

DUNCAN    Aye. On condition that none go armed within these walls.

ELDER CLERIC    (Looks to his peers for assent, which they give.) Done, my lord.

Duncan and Gruach start to leave with their guard, talking intently. At the end of their conference, Duncans signals Guards disarm. Gruach makes a sign. Several people slump to the ground, while others freeze; Duncan's men quickly pick up their weapons, but before they attack, Moraine steps forward.

MORAINE    So quick to break oath, my lord? (Makes a sign of her own to revive/release the enchanted.) Take them to their chambers, and guard them within. (Her men take Duncan and Gruach away; Duncan's men push their way out of the courtyard.)

NOBLE    I do not like the smell of this.

MORAINE    I have sent for Macbeth; he marches now with all the Northern Clans' men. If would be king and queen would be warriors as well, we shall accommodate them.


Scene 3 Battle for the Throne

Macbeth and his men are on the march toward Inverness.



From nave to chops unseam the foe
Loose every head and seat it so


Upon King Duncan's battlement.


With brandished steel untie the fate
Of any we should designate


For our King Duncan's battlement.


We shall bathe in reeking wounds
And glory as the battle sounds


At poor King Duncan's battlement

[Repeat as a round? The marching song's rhythm rolls over to become the baseline of the battle that follows?]

Lights down. Sounds of the weapons clashing, loudly but offstage. Lights up on Gruach in her chamber, where she watches the battle from her window. Enter Moraine.


To the rhythm of the offstage battle...


Your reddest smile please, mother mine


I gladly bare my teeth to you


Your breast I'd rather cleave in two


I send your babe your bosom's wine


I send your head to husband's gate


I'll tear like lion bloody throat


Your heart shall e'ermore grace the moat


Come darling child and meet your fate.

They fight with magick and with knives; Moraine prevails; as Gruach bleeds out, Moraine cradles her in her lap.


You have grown, little chick, into a hunting hawk
And fiercely brought your prey to ground.
Your claws have opened flutt'ring heart
To leak my life from out the wound. (Dies.)


You flew too high, my lady queen,
Your span of wing too wee to catch a crown.

Macbeth enters, victorious, covered in Duncan's blood.

MACBETH    The day is won. Duncan's men are dead or gone.

MORAINE    And I, as well, have sent to hell the weirding sister queen. My dearest husband, we must divest ourselves of battle and prepare to take our rightful place upon high throne.

They embrace. They remove their blood-soaked garments, throwing them into the fireplace. Lights fade as their embrace becomes savage lovemaking.



Lights up on Macbeth and Moraine enthroned side by side in a church, each with a crown and a scepter. An Archbishop stands behind them, having just completed their coronation.

ARCHBISHOP    We bless the reign of King Macbeth I and Queen Moraine, in the name of Pope Benedict IX, by grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in this one thousand and fortieth year since His ascent to the throne of Heaven.

Moraine stands to address the assmbled.



My king and I do here decree
What has been lost once more will be:
From mothers gone to girls firstborn the realm belongs.
The town, the crown, the very ground to daughters shall belong.
A queen shall mate, and with her hand
She will bestow upon her man
The right to rule, if he stay true and by her side;
They two shall say 'til dying day how come and go the tide.
While House Macbeth do hold the throne
I vow to each and every one
That none shall want for home, nor hearth, nor right of birth.
We pledge our word from this day forth 'til bones dissolve to earth.





1 Daily life from Wikipedia entry on medieval Scotland.

2 Foxglove, Northern Starflower, Moonwort, and Adder's Tongue are plants native to the area. An athamé is a
small knife used in rituals of the old religion.

3 Male falcon.

4 Singer's choice whether to use "bind" or "wed," depending on which vowel better suits her voice.

5 A splash of spirits is a traditional offering to the gods.


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