Main piece: Okay, so… You’re never supposed to say the name Macbeth within a theater. You’re supposed to refer to is as “The Scottish Play” because the Macbeth is cursed and um there have been many instances of actors or crew getting injured or having bad luck. If you say Macbeth instead of “The Scottish Play” in a theater, you’re supposed to run outside, spin around three times to your left, and spit over your right shoulder. And then… you’re safe.
Background information (Why does the informant know or like this piece? Where or who did they learn it from? What does it mean to them?):
I mean… I’ve been doing theater since I was five, and it’s something that’s done at every single theater. There’s not a specific point where I can say I was told it, you would just hear “The Scottish Play” and wonder what it was. If there was a stupid middle school boy who decided to say it in the theater, everyone would scream at him and tell him to go outside RIGHT NOW to un-jinx himself or remove the curse. They would watch him until he finished. My thing with superstitions in general is, like, do I necessarily think that since you say Macbeth in a theater, that means your show is gonna be doomed? No. But since someone said it, everyone will be on edge and be thinking about the stupid curse and mess up. But… what’s the harm in it? You know? You’re not losing anything from participating in the ritual that saves you from the curse, so why not do it.
Context (When or where would this be performed? Under what circumstance?):
In a theater during ANY stage of a production- auditions, rehearsals, performances, strike- even if you’re just an audience member. The only time you’re allowed to say Macbeth is if you’re actually doing the show and in the context of the show. But even if you’re talking about the play and you’re in the performance, if it’s not for the purpose of putting on the play, then you’re not allowed to say it (i.e. in rehearsal)
This was a folk belief discussed in class, and it was interesting to hear it brought up again in conversation. I learned more about the history behind saying “Macbeth” as well as the technicalities behind the folklore, which prove to be rather intricate. This particular informant’s retelling was especially compelling. I felt as if I too were a believer, and left the interview feeling like I would never say “Macbeth” in a theater. It also gave me more insight into the culture of stage theater, which is much more community based than I had previously known it to be.