World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


MacBird! is a 1967 satire by Barbara Garson that superimposed the transferral of power following the Kennedy assassination onto the plot of Shakespeare's Macbeth.

Thus John F. Kennedy becomes "Ken O'Dunc", Lyndon Johnson becomes "MacBird", Lady Bird Johnson becomes "Lady MacBird", and so forth. As Macbeth assassinates Duncan, so MacBird is responsible for the assassination of Ken O'Dunc; and as Macbeth is defeated by Macduff, so MacBird is defeated by Robert O'Dunc (i.e. Robert Kennedy). This action is significantly influenced by the Three Witches, representing Students, Blacks, and Leftists.

In a 2006 Washington Post interview Garson said she was not seriously accusing Johnson of complicity in the Kennedy assassination:

"People used to ask me then, 'Do you really think Johnson killed Kennedy?' " Garson, now 65, recalls. "I never took that seriously. I used to say to people, 'If he did, it's the least of his crimes.' It was not what the play was about. The plot was a given."[1]

The play parodies sequences from Shakespearean tragedies including Macbeth, Hamlet, and Richard III, albeit with Texas and Boston accents. The action follows MacBird from the 1960 Democratic National Convention, when he becomes Ken O'Dunc's Vice-President ("Hail, Vice-President thou art!"), to Ken O'Dunc's assassination (at the urging of Lady MacBird), to Robert O'Dunc's victory over MacBird at the next convention.

Macbird! started out as a short satirical sketch by Garson, a recent graduate of the Berkeley anti-Vietnam war movement. It was developed into a full-length play with help from writer/director Roy Levine (and Shakespeare).

The production, which opened a mere three years after the Kennedy assassination, was quite controversial. It has been said that pressure from local authorities was applied to theaters in New York who were considering it. The Village Gate was the only theater willing to defy this pressure and mount the play. Macbird opened there on February 22, 1967, and closed on January 21, 1968, after 386 performances.

Roy Levine, who worked with Garson to develop the work from what was essentially a sketch to a full-length play, was the original director of Macbird! His bold and unique theatrical vision marked the production throughout the run, although, near the end of the almost-complete previews, he was suddenly replaced by Gerald Freedman. Set design was by Clarke Dunham, costumes by Jeanne Button, and lights by Robert Brand. The stage manager was Joel Zwick.

The opening night cast included:

Stacy Keach as MacBird
Rue McClanahan as Lady MacBird,[2]
Paul Hecht as John O'Dunc
William Devane as Robert O'Dunc
John Pleshette as Ted O'Dunc
John Clark as Earl of Warren
Cleavon Little as Witch 2

The original cast recorded a two-disc album of the text on February 6, 1967. It was released in a boxed set with a copy of the script on the Evergreen label as Evergreen - EVR 004

John Clark left the cast early to marry Lynn Redgrave. Cleavon Little made his professional acting debut in the play. It went on to a long engagement in Los Angeles but with a different cast. There was also a production by San Francisco's Committee Theater circa 1968.


  1. ^ , September 5, 2006Washington PostHorwitz, Jane "She Hopes 'MacBird' Flies in a New Era",
  2. ^ , Friday, June 4, 2010.The New York TimesMartin, Douglas. "Rue McClanahan, Actress and Golden Girl, Dies at 76,"
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.