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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: September ::
Macbeth Curse
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0646  Thursday, 27 September 2007

[1]	From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 11:13:34 -0400
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

[2]	From: 		Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 10:38:28 -0500
	Subj: 		RE: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

[3]	From: 		Billy Houck <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 09:18:53 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

[4]	From: 		Paul E. Doniger <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 16:17:05 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

[5] 	From: 		Alfredo Michel Modenessi <
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	Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 21:32:32 -0500
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

[6]	From: 		Joseph Egert <
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	Date: 		Thursday, 27 Sep 2007 09:42:40 -0700 (PDT)
	Subj: 		Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 11:13:34 -0400
Subject: 18.0639 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

Susan St. John <
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 >My favorite part of the superstition is how people refer to the
 >lead characters.  We usually say Lady M, and the male lead is
 >often MacDaddy or Big Mac.

My wife was taught by the late Kenneth Janes to call him "Mr. Christmas".

John W. Kennedy

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 10:38:28 -0500
Subject: 18.0639 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	RE: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

I have always been inclined to view such superstitions as bordering on 
the idiotic EXCEPT it is well-known that when people anticipate or worry 
about trouble it more frequently happens.

Of course, I once played Duncan in a production whose director had the 
same attitude and used the word routinely to refer to the play. 
Unfortunately, the actor playing Macduff fell while rehearsing the final 
sword fight, hurt his back, and was barely able to appear for the 
performances.

On the other hand, I gave up referring to the play as Macbeth inside 
theatres after the time I used it while directing a student production 
(of a different play). The students went bonkers, and I had to go 
through the nonsense of going outside, turning, spitting and knocking 
just to get on with the rehearsal.

As Huck Finn said about his doting father, "I learnt the best way to get 
along with his kind of people is to let them have their own way."

Cheers,
don

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Billy Houck <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 09:18:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 18.0639 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

Whenever I am with a group of actors who subscribe to this superstition, 
I take a survey:

How many of you have been in a production of Macbeth?

How many of you were hurt in that production?

How many of you have been in a production of Romeo & Juliet?

How many of you were hurt in that production?

I usually find that Romeo & Juliet is a much more dangerous play than 
Macbeth.
And that the same actors who subscribe to the Macbeth curse also believe 
in "lucky underwear."

Though I don't know of a Macbeth story as elaborate and horrific as Mike 
Shapiro's, I do know of an outdoor production in Solvang, California 
that was interrupted by two owls battling over the stage. The battle 
ended when one of the owls dropped a dead mouse on Macbeth's boot.

Billy Houck

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Paul E. Doniger <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 16:17:05 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 18.0639 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

Is there any truth to the theory that the "Macbeth curse" is the result 
of the fact that Macbeth is always a good ticket seller, and theatre 
companies that are facing financial failure often mount a production in 
the futile hope of staying afloat? I can't remember where I heard 
(read?) this, but it sounded intriguing. Does anyone have the skinny on 
the true origins of the myth of the curse?

Paul

[5]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Alfredo Michel Modenessi <
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Date: 		Wednesday, 26 Sep 2007 21:32:32 -0500
Subject: 18.0639 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

The curse reaches well beyond the borders of the English-speaking world.

In Mexico, the most memorable and lamentable instance is supposed to 
have occurred during a 1950s production. My guess, alas!, is that it's 
merely a local adaptation of a common and probably untrue anecdote. 
Anyway, Mexican theatre folklore has it that one of the outstanding 
actors of his day was Mac-fighting some forgotten Macduff when the tip 
of a sword broke clean and flew straight into the eye of an unfortunate 
first-row beholder. Needless to say, that was the last performance of 
that production, to the emotional-and financial-distress of the company. 
Nothing else is known of the poor fellow who lost his eye except that he 
lived to tell of his disgrace and never again set foot in a theatre.

The strangest story I can tell is mine, though. It came the night before 
I defended my MA dissertation, which was all about the unnamable play. 
The president of my board was a Catholic fundamentalist who totally 
abhorred my views and was ready to give me the hardest time. I was 
actually thinking of praying to the Weird Sisters for help when I 
received a phone call from her to let me know that she wouldn't be able 
to attend my exam me because she had literally "broken a leg" that 
morning. She then accused me, in jest--little did she know!, of having 
done exactly what I was thinking of. I did NOT profit from the (un)lucky 
incident, however. Her substitute--a great friend of mine, I swear--was 
ever worse to me. She apologized later that evening, saying that she 
didn't know what'd got into her. I did. And do, to this day.

By the by, the antidote to the curse is well portrayed in Ronald 
Hardwood's play "The Dresser"--filmed 1983 by Peter Yates.

Best,
Alfredo.

[6]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Joseph Egert <
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Date: 		Thursday, 27 Sep 2007 09:42:40 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 18.0639 Macbeth Curse
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0639 Macbeth Curse

Doesn't our anxious fumbling belief in such omens often prompt their 
fulfillment? In seeking to flee our fate, like Oedipus or Macbeth, 
aren't we blindly racing toward it instead?

   Paradoxically yours,
   Joe Egert

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