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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: February ::
Re: The Scottish Play
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0076.  Monday, 6 February 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Melissa Aaron <
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        Date:   Sunday, 5 Feb 1995 14:02:11 +0200
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0072 Q: The Scottish Play
 
(2)     From:   Michael Faulkner <
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        Date:   Sunday, 5 Feb 1995 14:46:12 -0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
 
(3)     From:   Steven Gagen <
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        Date:   Monday, 06 Feb 1995 10:44:34 +1100
        Subj:   Re: The Scottish Play
 
(4)     From:   Jean Peterson <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 Feb 1995 12:53:35 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
 
(5)     From:   Fran Teague <
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        Date:   Monday, 06 Feb 95 14:01:59 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Melissa Aaron <
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Date:           Sunday, 5 Feb 1995 14:02:11 +0200
Subject: 6.0072 Q: The Scottish Play
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0072 Q: The Scottish Play
 
My experience is that it's still forbidden.  The operatic equivalent is Verdi's
*La Forza del Destino*, sometimes called "the one without a name." Along this
line, does anyone know if there's a curse or something funny associated with
John Ford's *Tis Pity Shee's a Whore?"  Stoppard's *The Real Thing* seems to
suggest that it's a play that breeds a lot of inappropriate relationships
backstage, and I've heard this from other sources.  Anyone know?
 
Melissa Aaron
University of Wisconsin-Madison
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael Faulkner <
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Date:           Sunday, 5 Feb 1995 14:46:12 -0600 (CST)
Subject: 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
 
Bill,
 
Having done many productions of Shakespeare's, including the dread play itself,
I can say that the superstition is indeed alive and well.  I have heard of many
variations on the "cure", however, those being:
 
        After turning around three times, one must *spit* over the
        left shoulder
 
        After turning around three times, one must quote from
        "Midsummer Night's Dream"
 
        Once the entire ritual is completed, one must knock on the
        dressing room door, formally ask for re-admittance, and be
        welcomed in by a fellow actor that speaks their full name,
        as in "Yes, you may enter, Michael John Faulkner".
 
I have been witness to many backstage arguments about the validity of the
superstition (as I have inadvertantly let the name slip out), the most notable
being one in which people that didn't believe in it were divided between
whether or not one should honour the superstitions of other actors, and, being
a disbeliever, still participate in the "cure".
 
I myself am not sure what to believe...and would be curious to see if you learn
the source of the superstition.  Unlike the "no whistling" backstage fear,
which has a basis in the early technical operation of the theater, no one I
have met seems to know the origin of the "Scottish Play" superstition.
 
Regards,
Michael Faulkner

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(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Steven Gagen <
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Date:           Monday, 06 Feb 1995 10:44:34 +1100
Subject:        Re: The Scottish Play
 
Bill Schmidt is dubious as to whether the superstitions surrounding The
Scottish Play are still alive.  I can tell him that plenty of people still
believe in them here in Melbourne Australia.
 
Many people in the theatre world will not mention the play's name or quote from
it (or whistle in the theatre either, for that matter).  It is often referred
to simply as 'That Play'.  According to friends of mine who say they know about
such matters, the reason for the play's bad reputation is that some of the
spells and incantations used by the witches are _genuine_ spells and
incantations, capable of invoking evil entities.
 
Our theatre group planned to stage a production of That Play in April this
year.  My wife and I were to have co-directed it.  We were scornful about the
superstitions, and blase about the prognostications of those who told us about
the number of productions that had had to be cancelled because of ill-health
and death.  Until, that is, my wife developed sudden and serious valvular heart
disease which meant that the production has had to be deferred for at least a
year, and two members of our company died suddenly (one at the age of 26
years).
 
We are still planning to stage That Play next year.  But this time, we will
respect those superstitions -- just to be on the safe side.
 
Regards from Steve Gagen.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jean Peterson <
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Date:           Monday, 6 Feb 1995 12:53:35 -0500
Subject: 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
 
BE WARY HOW YOU SCORN SUPERSTITION...
 
About 3 years ago at Bucknell, during a rehearsal of a student-directed show
(NOT the scottish play, but nonetheless), the director and stage manager got
into a conversation about that "stupid" superstition.  Secure in their secular
rationalism, they tempted fate by joyously screaming the M-word, onstage and
backstage...
 
Opening night's performance was interrupted by a backstage fire, which started
in the room where the conversation began...(no one was hurt, but it WAS eerie).
 
Verily, I say, these things are true!
 
Cheers
Jean Peterson
Bucknell University
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Fran Teague <
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Date:           Monday, 06 Feb 95 14:01:59 EST
Subject: 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0072  Q: The Scottish Play
 
The theater group I work with regularly (non-profit community) does observe
the prohibition on Macbeth when someone notices that a violation has occurred.
Perhaps the parties who enforce the superstition are trying to show off; the
two of us who regularly teach Shakespeare don't fuss too much about it.
 

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