As the theatre department prepares for the upcoming adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth, “those involved with the theatre are being particularly careful with their words.
According to old theatre superstition, the play, “Macbeth,” is cursed. Ryan Riordan, Assistant Technical Director at the Clayton Center for the Arts, explained that the name, “Macbeth,” is not to be said anywhere inside of the building where the theatre is located, “so the B building, Clayton A, the whole kind of Clayton center campus is under the effects of the curse when it’s said.”
“The Scottish play” is the most commonly used alternative to saying “Macbeth” in the theatre; “McB” is another nickname that is used for the play.
Saying lines from the play outside of a rehearsal or performance setting is also said to be bad luck.
Riordan explained that there are a few remedies that can be performed if the name of the play or lines from the play are said. If “Macbeth” is said in the theatre the offender must “go outside, spin around three times, spit, and then knock and ask to be let back in.”
When asked if anyone at the Clayton Center has been required to perform this task, Riordan confirmed that a few students have.
If lines from the Scottish play are spoken outside of rehearsals or a performance an equivalent number of lines from another Shakespeare play, or any other play must be said to counteract the curse.
Theatre professionals are wary of this superstition, but the amount that believe in the curse of the Scottish play is about 50/50 Riordan said.
“I don’t really believe that the incantations by the witches at the beginning of the show are actual curses,” Riordian said. “I don’t really believe that it actually is cursed. It’s just trying not to tempt fate.”.
The Clayton Center technical department has been seeing effects from what could be the curse of the Scottish Play.
“Lately we’ve had a couple of electrical systems failures and they happened to happen right after someone had said the name of the Scottish Play so we kind of attributed it to that even though more than likely it was just bad electrical systems, but it’s always better to not tempt fate, is kind of the way we see it,” Riordian said.
Students are also feeling the effects of the curse. “I think the Macbeth curse is an understandable curse as made popular in the theatre world, but it only has meaning if it is given meaning. That being said though I just wouldn’t want to jinx it. In our department, it has become somewhat comical to be afraid of since we are about to delve into it, so it will be interesting to see if anything happens during the show,” said Sara Deathrage, senior theatre major.
As with many superstitions, it seems that people would rather follow the superstition, even if they do not believe, than be cursed with bad luck. Performances of the “Macbeth” adaptation, “Macbeth is the New Black,” are scheduled for Nov. 13, through Nov. 16.