Macbeth`s Birnam Forest Starts to Move

“Macbeth shall never vanquished be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him”

William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Macbeth

This prophecy is made in the semi-magical Tragedy of Macbeth. By semi-magical I mean: There are still witches, but they are loosing their power as prophecies start to work on a psychological level, not a magic one. It`s not exactly logical, but who cares? It`s a fine play with a lot of blood and a strong Bill-and-Hillary protagonist couple, so it can be a lot of fun.

The prophecy means that Macbeth will not be conquered until the trees from Birnam Wood approach his castle on Dunsinane Hill. This makes poor guy Macbeth feel quite safe since it seems obvious to him that trees cannot and will never be able to walk. This feeling of security leads him directly into his final and fatal trap. A whole army, camouflaged with branches of trees, a gigantic moving, living forest, approaches him. He recognizes his error, based on his lack of imagination, too late and is killed by the enemy.

This fits quite well with “Machines will never be able to replace human imagination and creativity”. I hear that quite often, actors are still feeling safe, like poor guy Macbeth. But, no matter how safe they feel,  they will be replaced by the Über-Marionettes of the 21st century. Gordon Craig saw it coming. it was only a matter of years. The marionettes will simply do better: better in movement, better in expression, better in being on point, better in partner interaction, better in ideas and concepts and, hold on tight, better in emotions! And of course they will be sexier and at the same time cheaper. Who could resist that?

“But the machines will never have a soul!”

Well, nor do humans have one.

“But consciousness!”

Who cares for consciousness? Acting is not about figures having consciousness but about getting the impression that they have consciousness and them making us react on them as if they had consciousness. The Mona Lisa doesn`t have consciousness, she doesn`t even have a back of head, she`s an image.

If you underestimate the complexity of the machines of the 21st century and overestimate the complexity and machine-unlikeness of humans you will probably not agree.

But especially for the field of acting we will be done within a few years. It will be like with artificial breasts: As long as you can distinguish them the natural ones are better.