Macbeth on Broadway: the Witches, the Curse, the Ritual

  • October 23, 2013
Macbeth and Banquo meet the three witches. .

Macbeth and Banquo meet the three witches. .

 

 

Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth, which is on Broadway at great group sales and at discount savings with Ethan Hawke as the Scot and Anne-Marie Duff as Lady Macbeth, is said to be cursed. Theatre folk are very superstitious about Macbeth. In the tragedy, the king encounters three witches who foretell his greatness, rise to power, and his final defeate when “Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane” comes against him. It is an amazing story filled with blood, ghosts, witches, and enough supernatural happenings to thrill even the most ardent Stephen King fan. But why is the play cursed?

King James I and Witchcraft

The three witches are spellbinding.

The three witches are spellbinding.

King James I was fascinated with witchcraft. So much so that he wrote a book entitled Daemonologie, In Forme of a Dialogie, Divided into three Bookes. By James Rx. James wrote the tome when he was James VI, King of Scotland. When he ascended to the throne after the death of Elizabeth I, Shakespeare wrote a play in which James’ ancestor King Duncan is murdered by Macbeth so that the noble Macbeth can become the King of Scotland.

It’s said that Shakespeare in his play used real incantations that were popular amongst witches and that this angered the witches in England so much that they cursed the play. Thus, it is a cursed play.

The Power of the Spell

The play is cursed.

The play is cursed.

How does the curse work? It is said to be bad luck for anyone to quote the play or say its name if they are in a dressing room or theatre. That is unless they are in a production of the tragedy. However, it is also said that being in Macbeth is bad luck and there are innumerable stories about mishaps, suicides, deaths, fires, and more horrible experiences associated with productions over the years.

How can you get rid of the bad luck if you do inadvertently quote the play or say the title? Accompanied by another person, you go to the stage door or some exterior door of the theatre. You leave the building. The door is shut with the other person remaining inside the building. You turn three times counter clockwise, knock on the door. The person inside opens the door and says enter. As you cross the threshold, you utter a curse. With that the bad luck is gone. And the thing is, this belief in the curse is very powerful in the theatre.

Yes, People Believe in the Curse

Many people in the theatre believe in the curse. As an actor and director, I’ve been in theatre’s and dressing rooms where someone says something like, “I was doing a production of Macbeth at the…” The person stops, people look at them, they sigh or curse and start for the door and someone automatically goes with them. Even if they don’t believe in the curse, most people will honor the legend and tradition and go through the ritual. After all, who wants to be blamed for anything bad happening on stage or in a production?

Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. Ethan Hawke is on Broadway now and All Tickets Inc. has Broadway group tickets for this production. Contact us at 1-800-922-0716 to get seats to this powerful play.

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