“So in the theatre you’re not supposed to say the word Macbeth ever. And that is because in legend, Shakespeare used like actually witch spells in the beginning of Macbeth, um, and so the witches cursed him and cursed the play so every time it was said in the theatre like something would go wrong in the production. And I’ve heard stories of like this happening to, you know, not to my school but like my friend’s school or a friend of a friend’s school, where like someone said Macbeth like 40 times in the middle of the theatre, and, like the pipes burst during opening night and like the lead broke their knee or whatever. And the only way to reverse this curse is to go out of the theatre, spin around three times while spitting over your shoulder and saying Shakespearean curses, and then ask to be invited back into the theatre. That’s the only way to reverse the curse. And so um for a lot of thespians, they try and find new and creative ways to say Macbeth. So I’ve heard the M-Word, I’ve heard Mac Daddy, I’ve heard the Scottish Play…Mac Daddy is a funny one I heard that at a like regional theatre competition like out of the mouth of like a grown man so that’s fun.”
Notes: This is a tentpole of the theatre community. I’ve never met anyone who was tangentially involved in theatre and hadn’t heard of the M-word. I’m not particularly superstitious, and even I jump at hearing the word Macbeth. This is a long-persisting legend, I feel in part to the universal “friend of a friend” that we can cite as our real-life source. I do think its interesting that this is the play that was chosen to be taboo as opposed to any of the other tragedies, which can be more gruesome and more supernatural. Perhaps this is the most well known tragedy?
For more on the curse, click here for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s article on the M-word.