The Curse of Macbeth

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Don’t mention Shakespeare’s “Unmentionable Play”, it will bring bad luck to the cast!… On the opening night in 1606, the actor who would play Lady Macbeth became mysteriously ill and Shakespeare had to take over the part. King James I, who had ordered the play, wasn’t very amused with the performance. In fact, it was a disaster. Fifty year had to pass before “that play” was performed again!

In 1849, more than 30 people were killed in a riot at the Astor Place Opera House, where “The Unmentionable” was playing. In a 1937 productionof the Old Vic in London, Lady Macbeth got nearly killed in a car crash and her husband, Laurence Olivier, almost died when a weight from the stage lights came down. The founder of the theatre had a heart attack during the opening night and when a member of the audience was hit by Olivier’s sword, he also got a fatal heart attack. But a wartime production with John Gielgud may has the record of heart attacks. After the war, in an open-air production, Charlton Heston got badly injured while his castle came down, burning as planned. But then the wind blew flames and smoke into the audience, causing a stampede… And these are just a few examples.

The curse seems caused by the three witches in “that play”. In his desire for authenticity, Shakespeare used some genuine black magic recipes and incantations:

Double, double toil and trouble,

Fire, burn; and caldron, bubble.

(…) Black spirits and white, red spirits and gray;

Mingle, mingle, mingle, you that mingle may.

(…) By the pricking of my thumbs,

Something wicked this way comes:-

Open, locks, whoever knocks!

The whole story is here .


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