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I really enjoy house managing, but Friday night at the Opera, something special happened.

Now, the ushers are always nice and very understanding. They are, by and large, retired ladies and gentlemen who do this for fun and the thrill of seeing the shows. I get along with almost all of them but Friday 6 of my 14 ushers came up to thank me for doing the show or to tell me how nice it was to work with me.

The thing is, it wasn't a hard show. I didn't solve any great problems. What did I do? I taught them something.

As part of my orientation I always welcome them to whatever show we are doing and mention the name of the promoter, just so they all hear it at least once before they face the public. I don't always know the exact name of the shows I have signed up to work and I imagine there are a few ushers like me. Friday I simply said "Welcome to MacBeth by the Opera. Now, if you notice my eye begins to twitch every time I say Macbeth, it's not any of you. I come from a theatre background and it is bad luck to say MacBeth in a theatre, so I may twitch a bit every time I say MacBeth." There was a polite ripple of laughter, which was all I expected, and then one usher said in a very demanding tone "Why?"

So I explained the history of the curse of MacBeth. I briefly mentioned that some people believe the spells are real or that you can raise the Devil if you follow the incantations exactly. Then I told them the "really real" reason as someone explained it to me - MacBeth is a very popular play so, waaaay back in the day, if a theatre was in danger of going under they would often perform it as a last-ditch effort to raise the money to stay afloat. If that didn't raise enough money, well, then they would burn the theatre down and start a new one. Theatre historians started going through the records and noticing a pattern of a theatre doing The Scottish Play and then burning to the ground and leaped to the obvious conclusion THE PLAY IS CURSED!!!11!!!

The ushers loved it. One of them came up to me right before the show just to tell me she is on the board at the PAC and at the meeting the day before they were asked to consider what Anchorage would be like without the PAC. "And then you talked about it burning down and it was all 'I was just THINKING about that!'"

I've been smiling every time I think about it. Something so simple, and it really made their nights. I made my mark on them.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 28th, 2012 04:06 am (UTC)
Pretty cool. I never knew that was the reason "MacBeth" was called "The Scottish Play" in the theater. Learn something new every day.
Feb. 28th, 2012 04:42 am (UTC)
And now you have taught me something! I did not know that about MacBeth. Very very interesting!
Feb. 28th, 2012 05:31 am (UTC)
Heee. Oh, theatre legends. Good on you for passing them on. :)
Feb. 28th, 2012 07:46 am (UTC)
Interesting.... I knew about the curse, but not about the burning.
Feb. 28th, 2012 09:26 am (UTC)
Love this, not the least of which is because it was a teaching moment during what was otherwise something ordinary in the lives of both you and the ushers. I cherish these moments in my own teaching life as well.

The curse factor of The Play That Shall Not Be Named (sorta like Prince changing his name to just being a symbol - lol) makes me think of how dancers say Merde to each other in lieu of Good Luck prior to a performance, as the latter is deemed to be anything but what it says. Is the Merde thing a ritual for actors as well?
Mar. 7th, 2012 06:33 pm (UTC)
Kind of...actors say 'break a leg' for similar reasons.
Feb. 28th, 2012 01:15 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I hadn't known why it was considered cursed.
Feb. 28th, 2012 03:21 pm (UTC)
Feb. 28th, 2012 03:28 pm (UTC)
Wow, that makes ME smile too!! What an interesting history lesson that is. And awesome that you totally made their nights. :)
Feb. 28th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
I am very, very, very sad that I missed the Opera version of Mac.... The Scottish Play. (Kevin still can't say it even if he's NOT in a theatre!)
Mar. 7th, 2012 06:24 pm (UTC)
I had to keep forcing myself to repeat the name that night. The nights I was house managing in the other theater I just called it THE Opera.
Feb. 28th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
I did not know that! Interesting!
Feb. 28th, 2012 08:53 pm (UTC)
That is really interesting - I had no idea that is was the original reason it was considered bad luck, and very cool how you made their night!
Feb. 29th, 2012 01:06 am (UTC)
Great story!
Feb. 29th, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
If you haven't already, you really must see Dario Argento's Opera .. I think you can guess the opera in question ... ;)
Mar. 7th, 2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
It's been on my Netflix queue forever but I have yet to pull the trigger on it...
Feb. 29th, 2012 04:17 am (UTC)
The Soup had a clip from Bridezillas with one gal twirling in a circle, chanting "Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth" (to undo - in her mind - a jinx).
Mar. 7th, 2012 06:12 pm (UTC)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )


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