Text: “Macbeth!”

Context: The informant is from Las Vegas, NV and learned about the legend of Macbeth (and how you are NOT supposed to say Macbeth in a theater) when she played the titular character “Macbeth” in her 5th grade production (Alexander Dawson Elementary School). She was told by her teacher as a warning. She states “It is bad luck to say Macbeth in a theater and your show will be cursed with bad luck if you do. I don’t know the reason why, but I know that you aren’t supposed to say it.” She believes that “Macbeth is such a powerful character and so people associate it with his power” and that’s why they don’t say it in theaters.

Analysis: In the past, different productions of Macbeth have been “cursed” — There have been several accounts of real violence and death occurring during various productions of the Scottish Play. Most commonly known is a production where a real dagger was brought on stage and used to kill an actor, on stage, in front of a real audience. Since then, it is considered “bad luck” to say Macbeth in a theater when you are not performing the show itself. And, as actors tend to be very superstitious, avoiding the name “Macbeth” is a common practice in theaters still. If someone does accidentally say it, they are supposed to go outside the theater, spin in a circle three times, and say a foul word to “undo” the curse. I believe that this is also used as a way for performers to justify having a “good” or “bad” performance—they can place the blame on something other than their own abilities.