Contagious
Folk Beliefs
Magic
Protection

Macbeth Bad Luck

“Everyone that comes to my house who’s at all superstitious claims our house is haunted. Now, I have noticed all kinds of weird stuff in this house over the years. Believe me… I could not disprove it. I could not prove it, but nor could I disprove it., so there’s a feeling that there’s something going on in the house. Now I always maintain that they’re good ghosts, but when we did Macbeth at the house… it seemed like a very rough time doing that play. There’s a huge rumor in the theatre world that if you produce the play Macbeth, it is a nightmare. All kinds of ghosts come out, mess with your projects. You get all kinds of things that could go wrong… it’s scary.

“That has gone on for hundreds of years. It is the one play—Shakespeare—that is considered so heinously evil. Because the—the guy invites a guest over to his house and then kills him to become king. So, it’s considered so—such an evil premise, that we don’t. You, know, it’s something that you, you take very seriously if you’re going to do the play, and… that summer it was a nightmare to do the theatre.”

 

The informant added that you can’t say the name Macbeth in the theatre. He said that instead, you’re to refer to it as “The Scottish Play” (and the king as “The Scottish King” and queen as “The Scottish Queen”). He said that everyone in theatre will tell you this, (so he can’t remember where he originally heard it, but he hears it frequently). The informant follows protocol and uses the title “The Scottish Play.”

A teacher he worked with at Santa Monica College “freaked out” when they said they wanted to produce Macbeth, and she directed them to take themselves outside, spin around three times, and spit over their shoulders. The informant said people are very serious about this.

During his production of Macbeth, he had a tenant that refused to leave and was not paying him rent (she was a friend of the informant), but a lease had been signed for another person to move in. He also had a rough time with the director, who had also threatened a lawsuit against one of the actors and well as against the informant.

I’ve heard of this superstition often throughout school where the play is frequently read in classes and performed by theatre students, but the specificities of this telling of it (the squatting renter and the lawsuit-threatening-director) add to the belief. It’s the little things that individuals add to the larger superstition that make it powerful and give it truth value.

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