Michael Robinson • Link
"Macbeth remains among the most popular of Shakespeare's plays in performance, having been a favourite with theatre companies since its first recorded performance in 1611. Dubbed 'the Scottish play', Macbeth has acquired a reputation as 'cursed' due to calamities which have occurred during various productions over the centuries, including riots, falling scenery, illness and even the death of a lead actor.
Richard Burbage (c.1567-1619) played the title role in first known performance of Macbeth at the Globe on 20 April 1611, an event recorded by Simon Forman in his Book of Plaies. Some historians contend the play may have been performed even earlier, when it could have been one of several works presented at Hampton Court before King James VI/I and the visiting King of Denmark, Christian IV, on 7 August 1606.
The next recorded performance was in 1663, by William Davenant's company, the Duke of York's Servants, at Lincoln Inn's Fields. Davenant (1606-68), who claimed to be Shakespeare's illegitimate son, adapted the play to suit the tastes Restoration audiences accustomed to tidy moral lessons and lavish spectacle. Davenant expanded the role of Lady Macduff to provide a virtuous contrast to Lady Macbeth, while minor characters, most notably the Porter, were cut. Elaborate songs and dances were added, for example during the witch scenes. The witches are thought to have flown with the help of stage machinery."