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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
Macbeth Curse
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0633  Friday, 24 September 2007

[1] 	From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 20 Sep 2007 12:38:42 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0626 Macbeth Curse

[2] 	From: 		Jack Heller<
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	Date: 		Thursday, 20 Sep 2007 13:23:41 -0400 (EDT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0626 Macbeth Curse

[3] 	From: 		Virginia Byrne <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 20 Sep 2007 14:05:57 EDT
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0626  Macbeth Curse

[4] 	From: 		Jodi D. Clark <
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	Date: 		Friday, 21 Sep 2007 10:03:57 -0400
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0621 Macbeth Curse

[5] 	From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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	Date: 		Monday, September 24, 2007
	Subj: 		Macbeth Curse


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Thursday, 20 Sep 2007 12:38:42 -0400
Subject: 18.0626 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0626 Macbeth Curse

Margaret Hargrave <
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 >I simply don't buy 'curses'. But then, I'm a sceptic and an unbeliever
 >in religion/superstition.

Moi aussi, but enough of my friends are in the profession that I have 
learned to observe it anyway, at first for courtesy's sake, but later as 
developed habit.

Carol Morley <
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 >Then you have only yourself to blame, but can easily rectify matters 
(depending on whom you believe) by leaving the room - wherever you are 
right now for instance, but it helps to have another person waiting 
inside. Once outside, turn round three times, spit, swear vehemently and 
knock on the door and ask to be let back in. All done. Or (apparently) 
you just quote Midsummer Night's dream as an antidote, which sounds just 
plain silly to me.


I was taught to say "Angels and ministers of grace defend us!" while 
crossing myself.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jack Heller
<
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Date: 		Thursday, 20 Sep 2007 13:23:41 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 18.0626 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0626 Macbeth Curse

Because I don't think stories of theatre from Louisiana often get any 
notice, I'll give these two. First, in the early 90s, Barry Kyle 
directed a production of Macbeth at LSU, and one idea was to have the 
stage coated with some kind of dust so that it could be kicked up a bit 
during the battle scenes. I think I went on opening night. I don't think 
the dust was repeated at the following performances. There was much 
coughing during that performance.

The best production I've seen of Macbeth was at the Shakespeare Festival 
at Tulane University in the mid-90s. The run went well. The local 
celebrity who played Duncan was dead of a heart attack one week after 
the show's run had ended.

I don't know if any of this makes Macbeth particularly unlucky--I think, 
rather, that we just notice these things more in relation to that play.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Virginia Byrne <
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Date: 		Thursday, 20 Sep 2007 14:05:57 EDT
Subject: 18.0626  Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0626  Macbeth Curse

When directing a production of The Scottish Play, I rented mail and 
armour and weapons from a 'reenactment" society. They were stored in a 
closet. I went to retrieve them for a scene on which we were working and 
there was a general blackout in the neighborhood due to an automobile 
accident and as I stood there in the dark the weapons etc. came tumbling 
down upon me. I escaped but just barely. The next rehearsal (since we 
hadn't got the hint) . . . Lady McDuff when being dragged offstage by 
two guards in a scene very well rehearsed with a fight director, fell 
backwards and suffered a concussion.

She survived (the actor, not Lady McDuff) and the show went on. Would I 
ever direct it again.?

NO!

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jodi D. Clark <
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Date: 		Friday, 21 Sep 2007 10:03:57 -0400
Subject: 18.0621 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0621 Macbeth Curse

When I was in college, I was in a production of Sister Mary Ignatius 
Explains It All for You, by Christopher Durang.  I had always been 
rather superstitious about the Macbeth curse, but others in the cast 
weren't.  I was waiting backstage for my cue when I heard someone say 
the dreaded name.  I was appalled!  I berated my fellow actor quite 
vehemently about the ill timing of saying such a thing.  In the middle 
of my lecture, I heard my cue music come on!  I was going to be late for 
my cue!  I ran down stairs, through the green room, into the under part 
of the stage, which was pitch black.  I turned a corner so fast that the 
stage gun I was carrying flew out of my cassock (I was Sister Mary).  I 
picked it up, ran up the pitch-black ramp, turned too soon and smacked 
my face into the wall.  I saw stars for a few seconds.  I checked my 
nose to make certain it wasn't broken, and then proceeded up the rest of 
the ramp, JUST in time for lights up.  That was quite the harrowing 
"Scottish Play" experience for me.

In Superstitious Solidarity,
Jodi Clark
Brattleboro, VT

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Hardy M. Cook <
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Date: 		Monday, September 24, 2007
Subject: 	Macbeth Curse

As one who never got into the habit of observing the curse, I have a 
question. The uttering of the play's name <I>Macbeth</I> only applies to 
when one in actually in a theater, yes? There is not a prohibition 
regarding all utterances of the play's name, is there?  I have always 
felt that using, at all times, the term "The Scottish Play" (or some 
other circumlocution) sounds rather affected.

Although I am not an observer of the curse, my older daughter, who was a 
theater major in acting, does. She informed me of a interesting local 
variation. For a birthday present, years ago, I gave her acting lessons 
at the Shakespeare Theatre. Apparently, at the Lansburgh Theater (or are 
we now to refer to it as the Sidney Harman Center for the Performing 
Arts?), the curse involves a ritual in which an offender must circle (if 
I remember correctly) a shire to Elvis that is set up backstage near the 
green room. If Ed Gero is reading, perhaps he could clarify actual 
procedures for me.

Hardy

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