OK, so before we get too far into Macbeth, er The Scottish Play, let’s address the 800-pound gorilla in the room (I know I’m mixing idioms, thank you very much): the infamous curse.
I’m not a superstitious guy. Sure, if my beloved Bruins win their first game of the season, you can bet your bottom dollar I’m wearing that same shirt for the next game. But broken mirrors? Just glass to clean up, baby. Walk under ladders? More stupid than unlucky. Cross black cats? Not a cat guy, so I don’t go out of my way to be near them to begin with. Friday the 13th? Kinda cool, since any month (save that lil’ bastard February in non-leap years) with that day will have at least a portion of five weekends.
So. the Curse.
you see, there’s no According-to-Hoyle definition of the curse, because with things like superstitions, there’s no written rule book, so you get variations
You’re not supposed to say the word “Macbeth” in a theater without risking some kind of disaster (there’s even a version of the curse that includes even quoting the play [unless you’re rehearsing or performing the play]…and according to Patrick Stewart, this is even worse).
If you do utter those words in a theater, what do you do to “cleanse” yourself? Well, again, there’s nothing According-to-Hoyle, but these are the widely cited:
- spin around three times, spit over your left shoulder and recite a line from Shakespeare (preferably from A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
- spin around three times, spit over your left shoulder and yell a profanity (preferably the dirtiest you can think of).
- either of the two above, after exiting the theater
So, to avoid all that, instead of Macbeth, you discuss The Scottish Play. (I’ve seen some references to using The Bard’s Play as another euphemism, but I’ve never actually heard anyone use it.)
So, instead of the character of Macbeth, you talk about “the Scottish king,” “the Scottish lord,” “Mackers,” or “Mac B” (that last one is like The Bard’s Play… I’ve seen references, never heard it in real life).
Lady Macbeth? Go with “the Scottish lady,” or “Lady M.” (why she doesn’t get “the Scottish queen” I haven’t the faintest).
According to legend, some of the witches’ incantations in the play were real and to utter the title would bring real witchcraft down upon your theater (why saying the name and not the spell produces the curse is beyond me).
There’s a bunch of anecdotal instances of the curse, but seriously, either you believe this stuff or you don’t.
That’s why it’s so much fun to poke fun at (but notice that these “theater people” won’t even set the joke inside a theater)…
I don’t believe it. But I still don’t say the word in a theater out of respect of those who do.