Last night I went to a lecture on Shakespeare in modern times (yes, it was as thrilling as it sounds!). A lot of this covered specifically "Voodoo Macbeth" - see link below - which was really fascinating and daring and I was wondering if there was a book on Welles that got into this production really well (?) - because the stuff on this sounds amazing and would make a good movie itself even.
With Macbeth being in the news with the Fassbender and upcoming Washington one just curious if any Welles bios cover this in a great way - or if not, what Welles bio in general you'd recommend...........Mattsby?............stephen?
This Is Orson Welles is the big one, and one of my favorite reads ever. Welles considered it his autobiography, he even edited Bogdanovich's transcripts. Tons of insight and great storytelling - in my copy I can't flip more than a few pages without some underlining (am I the only one who underlines when they read!) - but he doesn't talk about Voodoo.
I don't believe he talks about it in My Lunches With Orson either - that book is less essential than the other but very hilarious and very entertaining (lot of cameo appearances). Welles is sort of viciously informal and unhinged here, but there's a revels-now-are-ended feeling to it too, and one heartbreaking "scene" where he botches a meeting with an HBO executive.
I have a third bio book called Young Orson that I haven't read yet (!) - it's close to 800 pages and covers his life and work leading up to him saying "Action!" on Citizen Kane. I mean, imagine having 800 pgs worth of existence before turning 24? I checked the index and he talks about Voodoo quite a lot so that might be the one for ya.
I'm jealous about that lecture btw - the wiki page for Voodoo is really great, all those pics. That production and the period is worth a documentary at least! 20/yo Welles making history. Canada Lee - who played Banquo and according to the wiki saved Welles' life when someone lunged at him with a knife - a very fascinating figure, I wrote about him in the Historical Events thread. Few years later starred in Welles' 1941 Native Son production, and '41 btw not to digress too much from the topic would be a terrific year to focus on Welles in a movie too. At the same time as the play, there's the Hearst dilemma with the Kane release, Hoover investigating Welles for communist ties, he takes the stage for the first time as a magician, prepping and filming Ambersons. Lotta potential movies could cover him but who to cast? Nobody in the popular crop of younger actors fits . Christian McKay did a good job in the ok but lite Me and Orson Welles. As well as D'Onofrio in your favorite short film Five Minutes Mr Welles!
I'm reading Simon Callow's big multivolume bio on Welles (last volume is supposed to be coming soon). Very good and it will probably go down as the definitive traditional bio on him (This is Orson Welles is obviously a bit different). He has a bit of a fixation on the potentiality of him being bisexual, which reminds me a bit of our old pal XFiles, which is......weird, but there's some interesting info there.
There's probably about 30 pages on Macbeth focusing a lot on the reception in Harlem and his relationship with the government board sponsoring it (they wanted black actors to do classic plays "without regard to color" which Welles obviously ignored with the voodoo theme). The bio will probably end up being a decent amount over 2000 pages covering his whole life, he just did a ton of shit.
Haven't read Young Orson but if it's 800 pages just on his early life it probably goes into more detail on Voodoo Macbeth.