Thursday, December 15, 2005

Is this a dagger that I see before me? Shakespeare's Smoke and Mirrors

As a geek I have to love this article that explains how Shakespeare may have done the "dagger that I see before me" trick in Macbeth. I guess I never really thought about Shakespeare using special effects before, and assumed that maybe an all-black dressed stagehand held the dagger and walked backwards or something.

Not so, says the article, which details the work of Professor Iain Wright. Wright stumbled across the work of John Dee, a scientist during Shakespeare's time. "I suddenly ran up against this description of a man staring back with amazement at a floating dagger, and of the 'marvellous glass' that produced it," says Wright. He logically goes on to make the case that Shakespeare would have known about such tricks and worked them into plays like Macbeth, not only for the dagger but perhaps for the ghosts themselves.


Lis Riba said...

If you ever have the opportunity to go to Shakespeare's Globe in London, they have a little multimedia exhibit on how researchers believe various special effects were done, including hangings (given an audience who would regularly see genuine ones) and the vanishing banquet in The Tempest... Cool stuff.

Anonymous said...

To bad the article gives not the slightest clue about what actual technique was used by WS to project an image of the dagger.