David Thomas, who plays Banquo and Seward in Murwillumbah Theatre Company’s current production of Macbeth, considers himself lucky to only have received bite marks and bruising from a disturbed python in his kitchen last week.

The incident caused him to miss the performance for High Schools on Friday morning, leaving the assistant Director to read in the role.

But the cast are asking is the curse surrounding The Scottish Playstill alive? Shakespeare’s Macbeth is surrounded by superstition and fear of the ‘curse’ – uttering the play’s name aloud in a theatre causes bad luck. But where did this superstition come from?

According to folklore, Macbeth was cursed from the beginning. Shakespeare was said to have researched the weird sisters (witches) in depth; their chants, and ingredients of fenny snake, eye of newt and toe of frog, are supposedly real spells. This lead to a coven of witches objecting to Shakespeare using their real incantations, so they put a curse on the play.

Legend has it the play’s first performance (around 1606) was riddled with disaster. The actor playing Lady Macbeth died suddenly, so Shakespeare himself had to take on the part. Other rumoured mishaps include real daggers being used in place of stage props for the murder of King Duncan (resulting in the actor’s death).

The play hasn’t had much luck since. The famous Astor Place Riot in New York in 1849, caused by rivalry between American actor Edwin Forrest and English actor William Charles Macready, resulted in at least 20 deaths and over 100 injuries. Both Forrest and Macready were playing Macbethin opposing productionsat the time.

Other productions have been plagued with accidents, including actors falling off the stage, mysterious deaths, and even narrow misses by falling stage weights, as happened to Laurence Olivier at the Old Vic in 1937.

Then in 1988, Bulgarian singer, coach and translator Bantcho Bantchevsky committed suicide during a nationally broadcast matinee of Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera Macbeth. He propelled himself backwards from a balcony railing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Square.

So how can you avoid catastrophe if you utter the play that shall not be named? Exit the theatre, spin around three times, spit, curse and then knock on the theatre door to be allowed back in…

We plead with our audiences not to worry. Come and see Macbeth! This is Australia – “She’ll be right mate!”

The final weekend of performances is on Fri March 31 at 7.30 am, Sat April 1 at 7.30 pm and Sunday April 2nd at 2 pm. Tickets available from or at