There’s a superstition in the theater world about saying Macbeth or Lady Macbeth or any like version of that. So you cannot say the M-word in a theater or I take it very seriously. I don’t even say it in like a classroom within a theater. I get really scared of that too. I don’t know why I mean I don’t know why, but I do. And oh my god, one of my professors, I think was Scott Ferris who explained the reason but the reasoning behind it, of why it’s Macbeth and not like any other character like Word or name, but if you do happen to say, the M-word in the theater, you have to go outside you have to spit on the ground, spin three times, something like that. And then or else like something terrible is going to go wrong with your show, or the theater is going to collapse or something’s going to happen. The spirits of Shakespeare will come after you.
Informant’s Relationship to the Piece:
Me: Have you ever had an experience with like saying Macbeth and like anything bad happening?
Informant: No. Well, actually, for one show one of our actors said it in the dressing room, and was saying “oh my god, I love Macbeth. It’s such a great play.” And the other actors were like ‘Go outside right now’ and I checked in on them during intermission. And they were saying and they were outside making this-this other actor who said the M word spit and like, spin around. And I was like, ‘what’s going on? I was like, you guys, okay? Like, I’m trying to make sure this show is gonna happen. And they were like, No, he has to do this. And the show went great, nothing happened. I personally have never said it. Um, I know that there’s some people who think it’s so silly and they’ll just say whatever they want, and I think everything turns out to be okay. But there is a part of me that always fears the spirits will come and give us some obstacle.
The informant is one of my friends, a 19-year-old theatre major at the University of Southern California. I was told this as we were hanging out in one of the theatres on campus as we were talking about folklore.
I’m also a theatre major and I think the majority of us have different levels of belief about “the M-word”, where my informant takes it seriously to the point where she won’t even say the characters name unless it’s in one of her lines, but I’ve also met people who don’t really care, and of course, there’s always the one person that says it to annoy the people who really believe in it. But, those people are seen in a different light in a theatre space, because the whole point is to build an ensemble, a community, and when you have a person in the space who goes out of their way to scare people in the group, they take the trust out of the space. So even if you don’t believe it, it’s a sort of litmus test to see who you might not want to work with in the future if they know the superstition and like go out of their way to say it. I also think the “cure” for saying the word is fun because everyone has a slightly different way of doing it, where the steps are all basically the same, but with different variations within it, where like you have to spit over your left shoulder, you have to spin three times, then knock three times and someone has to let you back in. In some variations, you have to say the worst curse word you can think of.