Although William Shakespeare's "Macbeth" is centuries old (written around 1604), the deeply disturbing play continues to be a fan favorite among theater buffs around the world. The first production was speculated to have been staged around 1611, when Simon Forman, an Elizabethan astrologer, recorded seeing it at Scotland's Globe Theatre.


Here are a few more fun facts about "Macbeth" and its long and fascinating history:


1. The character Macbeth was based on a real Scottish king in the 11th century named Mac Bethad. Mac Bethad succeeded the former King Duncan after killing him on the battlefield. Mac Bethad went on to reign for 17 years, which was quite long for a king in those days. Most only ruled for about five or six years.


2. The play was written around the time of the Gunpowder Plot, in which a group of disgruntled English Catholics schemed to blow up the House of Lords with King James inside.


The evil-doerswere caught red-handed and subsequently tortured and murdered. In the aftermath, some speculated "Macbeth's" bloody climax was Shakespeare's way of sending out a warning of what would happen to those who might be plotting to murder the king.


3. In Shakespeare's day, females were prohibited from acting in plays and were always portrayed by young men. During "Macbeth's" initial run, a rumor was circulating that the boy playing Lady MacBeth had died and Shakespeare himself took his place.


4. King James I was notorious for his fascination for witches. Since three witches were central characters in Shakespeare's play, many believed he incorporated them into the plot to please James.


5. A movie version of "Macbeth" was released in 1971 that was directed by Roman Polanski. Despite its gratuitous violence, the film was a blockbuster. In 1978, the Royal Shakespeare Company released its movie version to a much lesser degree of fanfare. The avante-garde production was directed by Trevor Nunn and starred Ian McKellan and Judi Dench.