As success or failure in the theater can be influenced by so many intangible and unpredictable factors, it's not surprising that actors and other theater types maintain a variety of long-standing superstitions, which often are taken very seriously. The Lyric was one of two theatres demolished in 1996 to make way for what is now called the. Likewise, actor Harold Norman, who reportedly did not believe in superstition, died after his stage battle became a little too realistic while playing Macbeth in 1947. Be thou a spirit of health or goblin damn'd, Being with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell, Be thy intents wicked or charitable, Thou comest in such a questionable shape that I will speak to thee. The play itself has many scenes in the night or with dark skies. His Dad was later murder, and his Mom was beheaded by her cousin in order to get the throne. One woman fell off the stage.
But the show must go on, and King James saw the play on opening night. David Bellwood, Access Manager at Shakespeare's Globe, has one such story. No good evidence exists for this, but the story maintains that some practicing witches saw the play and took great offense at this misuse of their sacred craft, and placed a curse upon any who might perform Macbeth. A Long History There is a long history of productions and people who were affected by the Curse of Macbeth. In a largely uneducated society, heavily influenced by the church, most people believed in magic. There's cosmology built into the theatre.
All three actors are involved in the Folger Theatre production of. And in 1948, Diana Wynyard decided to play the sleepwalking scene with her eyes closed and sleepwalked right off the stage, falling 15 feet. The costume designer committed suicide. We couldn't find any such research published anywhere. And so the curse persists, feeding upon its own reputation. On opening night, when the soldiers storming Macbeth's castle were to burn it to the ground onstage, the wind blew the smoke and flames into the audience, which ran away.
Macbeth has certainly had its fair share of mishaps. It had been switched back and forth several times between being a motion picture theatre and a live stage theatre. In 1775, Sarah Siddons was nearly attacked by a disapproving audience. Barnes was engaged in a scene of swordplay with an actor named William Rignold when Barnes accidentally thrust his sword directly into Rignold's chest. And the curse kept going for 400 years.
In this case, we need not bother looking into the validity of the curse, or any other such thing, unless and until we've established that there is in fact a history of mysterious accidents associated with the performance of Macbeth that deviates beyond the range of what typically happens in plays. Actors who do not believe the superstition will sometimes abstain from saying the name of the play out of politeness to those that do. One version of this legend claims that it was the actor who played who died during the play's first production run and that Shakespeare himself had to assume the role. The actor playing Macduff ducked instinctively and the shield hit the ground about sixteen inches from the front of the stage. The third guess is that the play's crowd-pleasing popularity made it the stand-by when a show was flopping. When you have more performances, it's statistically more likely that things will go wrong. It is just as distressing for actors to hear a quote from the play uttered outside the theatre.
If this happens, the offender must recite an equal number of lines from another play. Now, whenever the play is given, the three witches whose spells were appropriated are awoken and it is they who cause the disasters onstage. In another 17th-century production, held in Amsterdam, the actor playing King Duncan was allegedly killed in front of a live audience when a real dagger was used in place of the stage prop during the stabbing scene. In 1953, Charlton Heston was playing the lead and suffered severe burns on his legs. Theatre manager Lilian Baylis died on the night of the dress rehearsal for the Old Vic's 1937 production starring Laurence Olivier.
Laurence Olivier was preparing for the opening night at the Old Vic in 1937 when he lost his voice and was nearly killed by a heavy weight falling in the wings. During his production of the play, he accidentally injured the actor playing Macduff with his sword, cutting open his hand. Those who believe in the curse claim that real spells are cast in the three witches scene. The play partly acquired its evil reputation because of the weird sisters and partly because tradition traces a long line of disasters back to its premier on August 7, 1606. There is no evidence that this legend is factual.
And if a play is popular enough to get staged and restaged for 400 years or so, some of those problems are bound to be pretty serious on occasion. The 20th century performances were especially brutal. The discontent was coming to a head, and the National Guard was already in place some days before the actual riot on Macbeth's opening night. References within the play to current events suggest that it was written after 1605, which gives us a time frame of about seven years. Granted my own stage experience is fairly limited, but when I'm brightly lit is when I have the hardest time seeing.