The superstition about "The Scottish Play" seems to stem from two sources:
1) The more mild, and seemingly more logical argument is that theatres only produce Macbeth
when they are in financial trouble and about to go under, because the show always
sells. It's classic, easy to understand Shakespeare, it's famous, and it's short - the shortest of the Bard
's plays. So the superstition goes, that you (as an actor) don't want to be employed in a company doing Macbeth, as you're likely to be out of work soon.
2) The more extreme and superstitious argument is that The Three Witch
in the play are real
, and therefore the play itself is cursed. Believers of this superstition often frequently believe that it's just as bad, or worse, to quote from the play - as you would invoke a curse on the production. Some even go to the lengths that they won't say the name of the play or quote it even outside
the theatre, as you'll curse everything in sight.
As stated above, there probably as many ways of removing the curse you put on the theatre / production as there are actors. The way I was taught, goes something like the following:
1. You must leave the theatre
and go outside.
2. Turn around three times, clockwise.
3. Spit over your left shoulder.
5. Say "Angels and Ministers of Grace defend us." (Incidentally, this is a line from Hamlet
, but I am unsure as to why this particular phrase is uttered.)
6. Depending on how superstitious the cast
are, you may be required to ask permission to return to rehearsal, etc.
Keep in mind, whether or not an actor believes that either of the above reasons for the curse are true, virtually any actor will
be mortified if you utter "Macbeth" inside or around the theatre. As a general rule, just don't do it. The only accepted reason for saying it in a theatre is if the play is being produced. When referring to the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, it's best to say "Big Mac" and "Lady M.," or something along those lines.
In any case, just don't do it, as actors are generally a wild
bunch (due to lack of money for food), and will likely tear you to shreds
if you take the word “Macbeth” lightly.