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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Q: The Scottish Play
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0072.  Sunday, 5 February 1995.
 
From:           Bill Schmidt <
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Date:           Saturday, 04 Feb 1995 11:21:41 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        The Scottish Play
 
From a review of Garry Wills's, "Witches & Jesuits" in the February 16, NYRB:
 
"I had assumed that this superstition [about Macbeth in performance] had
degenerated into a custom or running joke, but to make sure I troubled a number
of experienced actors with inquiries.  The results were, I think, of some
interest.  It is still forbidden in the green rooms for anybody to name the
play or quote from it, something you might do inadvertently, for instance by
saying you had won "golden opinions" from the reviewers. An offender is obliged
to leave the room, and in the corridor, turn thrice in a circle, and swear an
oath.  He or she may then bereadmitted.  Or if immediately on offending, the
culprit remembers to quote Hamlet's 'Angels and ministers of grace defend us!'
he or she may stay in the room."
 
Really?  I would appreciate hearing from any subscribers with experience of
Shakepeare in production whether this is true.  Is there any difference in
custom between the US and the UK?  I'd also be interested in hearing about any
other theatrical superstitions relating to Shakespeare.
 
     Thanks.
                        Bill Schmidt (
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