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Chat with anyone in theatre about “The Scottish Play,” and inevitably there will be some hesitation in saying the actual name aloud.
After all, that is how curses tend to go.
Once upon a time in 1606, the actor who played the first Lady Macbeth died of a fever backstage and a curse was born. Since that time, there have been records of ill-fated actors and production crew with each incarnation of the play, the bad luck often attributed to the “authentic” witches’ chants, the general bloody mayhem of this dark and twisted play, and low lighting.
The cast of Intrepid’s upcoming Macbeth has been dealing in darkness and magic for weeks now as they navigate the swamps of Scotland, sorting out the political intrigue and wiping blood from their hands. But, how did they manage to overcome the curse?
The modern day translation of the superstition goes something like this: You are not allowed to say the word in a theater. If you do, you are required to leave the theatre, turn around three times, spit, swear, and knock to be let back in.
If you are not an actor this may sound ludicrous. If you are an actor, you most likely have one or two or five stories of undertaking these actions yourself or forcing someone else to do so.
There is a loophole. Superstition also says that there are major curse-exceptions if a company is actually performing the play.
Director Christy Yael-Cox was never hesitant about dropping the “M”-bomb from the beginning of the process, and while the rest of the cast seemed relieved to follow suit, that hesitancy to utter the word still remained for some.
What to do? There was only one answer.
Meet the cast of Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s Macbeth: