The Scottish Play

My good friend, informant, was a theatre major at USC. She has been very involved with theatre throughout her life, especially attending various theatre camps in middle school and high school. Camps have a lot of lore surrounding them, so I believed she might have some theatre superstitions to contribute. I called her on the phone and asked a bit about theatre suppressions. Another thing she had to contribute was one superstition that I was already well aware of. This is a bit of a famous one:


Me: “Any others?”

Informant: “Well, the Scottish Play… are you recording my version? [Laughs] I hope I don’t get it wrong.”

Me: “Tell me!”

Informant: “You are NEVER supposed to say the word Macbeth in a theatre. It is terrible luck. If you must refer to the play, you call it the Scottish Play.”

Me: “Why is it bad luck? I always heard that but I never knew why people think it’s bad luck.”

Informant: “I know some people think the play itself is bad luck or cursed. But I also know just saying it is supposed to bring bad luck to the actor who says it. If you say it… you leave the theatre and spin around three times. That’s the cure we’ve come up with.”

Me: “Have you ever said it?”

Informant: “No!”


This is, of course, a very popular superstition — many of us, even those outside of the theatre world, have heard variations of this.


[For other versions of this superstition, check out the Steppenwolf website, “Theatre Superstitions: Volume 1”. Steppenwolf is one of the nation’s leading theatre companies]