Not Saying Macbeth in a Theater


The informant is my 18 year old sister and the information was collected from an in person causal interview. She is a senior in high school who is very involved in the theater at her school. Her close circle of friends include many of the people she was in plays with and spends much of her time practicing singing and some dancing. She is describing a superstition her and her theater friends from her high school theater program share.


LA: We are not allowed to say Macbeth unless it is part of the play. If you do say that it is bad luck. Yeah, it had actually happened. One time Karina [theater friend] said Macbeth and then Kayla [another theater friend] was like, “No!” Then there was a rope and it started sparking with fire. It started like smoking while we were in the theater. So that is something you never ever do. 

CA: Why specifically Macbeth?

LA: I don’t, maybe I think is it because it is really hard of a play to do and back luck because Macbeth had bad luck in the story so I think that is why. 


The connection between superstition and the theater seems to be very common. It is a very liminal space where people take on different personas and invoke the spirits of the people they represent. The goal is not to evoke the negative experiences of those you are portraying. Not only is the supersition espoused, but also enforced by other members of the theater showing the level of belief among them. The experience with the smoking rope reinforces their belief in the superstition and they will be more likely in the future to follow the practice more strictly and encourage others to do so.