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The 400-year-old Scottish curse associated with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” seems to be rearing its head just in time for Halloween.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s production of “Macbeth” opening Tuesday night has been cursed from the start.
The production has been plagued with staff problems, money shortages, performance space cancellations and alleged supernatural occurrences.
According to the curse, speaking quotes from the play or even uttering the name “Macbeth” inside a theater will cause disaster, and because of the superstition, the lead character is most often called the Scottish King or Scottish Lord.
A light turning on by itself and a candle blowing out marked the eeriest events to happen.
“Light is very minimal in the show, and we work with lots of natural lights such as candles, flashlights and lanterns,” said Tyrone Lackey (senior, music theater), who plays Banquo and Malcolm. “One of the lights blew out one night; none of us understand how that happened.”
Despite the strange occurrences, Lackey doesn’t believe in the curse.
“I believe it’s a group hysteria type of thing,” Lackey said. “In a production, everything that can go wrong will, and because it is ‘Macbeth,’ people are scared.”
Other members of the cast do believe in the curse.
“I didn’t [believe] at first, but the more I’ve been investing my time into this show, I feel like the strange things that have happened couldn’t have happened coincidentally,” said Emily Morris (senior, theater and early childhood education).
According to tradition, productions of “Macbeth” have supposedly been cursed since the very first performance in 1606 when Hal Berridge, the boy playing Lady Macbeth, became feverish and died backstage leaving Shakespeare himself to fill the role.
“I hope we can remain safe through our run,” Morris said. “We have had unfortunate events occur with our set design, sound design and even actors leaving the process completely.”
Lackey, who was forced to fill the role of a cast member who quit said it has been difficult to get caught up before Tuesday’s opening.
He had two weeks to learn the show and said he succeeded only by drinking a lot of caffeine and locking himself in his room for three hours a day.
“I’m jumping in there and having to learn all these lines,” Lackey said, “which is Shakespeare so it’s not easy.”
According to “Shakespeare Ghost Writers: Literature as Uncanny Causality,” the remedy, if someone utters that which they should not, is to leave the theater and perform a cleansing ritual before being invited back inside.
These rituals include turning three times, spitting over one’s left shoulder, swearing, or reciting a line from another Shakespeare play. The most popular being “Angels and ministers of grace defend us” from Hamlet.
While the players are not concerned that the curse will interfere, Lackey is worried for other reasons.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say yes because I was thrown into the fast-moving vehicle of this show,” Lackey said. “I am a little nervous, but hopefully we will work around anything that happens.”