The Curse of the play
Steven Gettermann

William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth has proclaimed the title “the cursed play” because of historical accidents related to the play, which still haunts theatres all over the world. The play has spread disaster on the production of the play through years, which has resulted in fright for saying the word Macbeth. Therefore the play is often referred to as the “Scottish play”, and other nicknames to prevent the curse for taking over production. If actors coincidentally say the word ‘Macbeth’ off stage, the actors must immediately leave the room, turn around three times, break wind or spit, knock on the door and ask permission to re-enter, to prevent the curse. Alternatively the actors can quote following line from Hamlet: “Angels and ministers of grace defend us”, which is far more manageable.
Below there’s a list of the incidents and people who have suffered from the Macbeth curse:
- In the very first performance in 1606, Hal Berridge, (yes a man ;) who was going to play Lady Macbeth, got sudden fever and died.
- In 1672 in Amsterdam, the actor who played Macbeth switched the theatrical knife with a real dagger and killed the actor who played Duncan in front of a live audience.
- In 1721 the actors kicked out a noisy nobleman and his friend during a performance, but they returned with a private army and burned down the theatre.
- In 1849 a crowd of 10.000 New Yorkers gathered and protested against a British actor, which resulted in a big riot that lead to killings and injuries of hundreds of people.
- In 1865 Abraham Lincoln read Macbeth, within a week- the night that he read it, he was murdered.
- In 1928 in London the scenery fell down and injured some of the cast, at the same time a fire broke out.
- In 1930 Lillian Boylis who played Lady Macbeth died on the day of the last rehearsal, in memory a portrait was hung in the theatre, but the portrait fell down from the wall during the same act years later.
- In 1934 an actor developed high fever on stage, so did the two actors who replaced him.
- In 1937 some of the stage fell down and missed an actor by inches. The woman who played Lady Macbeth in exact same play, were involved in a car accident on her way to the theatre, at the same time the owner of the theatre died by a heart attack.
- In 1942 four people of the cast died. The actor who played Duncan, two of the weird sisters and suicide of the costume designer.
- In 1947 an actor got wounded in the swordfight and died of his wounds. His ghost is said to be haunting the theatre on Thursdays, - the day he died.
- In 1953 an open-air performance in Bermuda resulted in a fire that made the audience flee and injured one of the actors, all because they were suppose to burn the castle to the ground on-stage.
- In 1988 a Macbeth play needed three different director, five Mcduffs, and six cast change to implement the play.
- In 1998 an accident somehow sliced open Mcduffs hand.

Even today actors fear the “Macbeth curse” and got their own precautions on how to avoid the curse.