Gay Smith, professor of theater, emerita, is the author of the book Lady Macbeth in America: From the Stage to the White House, published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2010.
Lady Macbeth has haunted American history since the conflicts of Shakespeare’s England spilled over into New England’s real witch hunts. To reveal how Lady Macbeth entered American politics as an icon for the First Lady, this investigation focuses on the prominent actresses in the role, how they performed, and their effect on audiences anxious about the country’s First Lady and her influence over the President—especially at times of war.
In this 252-page book, Smith shows how the various Lady Macbeths have both reflected and shaped the image their contemporaries have of the ambitious political wife, producing parallels that converge dramatically in 20th century “witch hunts.”
“Smith’s Lady Macbeth in America is a terrific read. Most of us have heard this or that First Lady (Mary Lincoln, Nancy Reagan,Hillary Clinton) referred to as a ‘Lady M type,’ but this book puts the label in its proper—and very entertaining—political and theatrical context. Smith provides a sharp, in-depth and colorful history…as well as highlighting the various ways the play itself has been viewed in relation to shifting political—and sexual—attitudes. For those of us who put our politics center stage, Lady Macbeth in America is a must,” says Jeffrey Hatcher, playwright and screenwriter.
Smith is currently working on an anthology titled Irish Plays and Politics.