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Developing From a Negative

Photo: Taelar Pollmann ⋅ The Sentry

The Scottish Play

The world of theatre comes with many superstitions, like leaving a lamp lit onstage overnight so the empty theatre would not be cast in complete darkness, thus giving the resident ghosts the ability to perform onstage.  Another superstition involves a curse placed on one of William Shakespeare’s plays.  The name nor lines should be spoken inside a theatre and if they are the speaker of the name should perform a ritual to remove the curse.

It sounds rather silly, but I witnessed this curse firsthand during my ushering days in Minneapolis.  I had the immense pleasure of working many of the touring Broadway shows that made a stop at the Orpheum, State, or Pentagons Theatres.  In 2013 the reimagined tour of The Phantom of the Opera that is currently playing at the Buell Theatre made its debut at the Orpheum.

During a two-show day the ushering staff sat together and prepped the playbills for the evening performance.  We were cautiously discussing theatre superstitions and many of the veteran ushers offered up stories of paranormal activity they had experienced inside the theatre.  The “Scottish Play”  was brought up and a fellow coworker cockily said the name of the play, claiming he didn’t believe in any of what we were discussing.  He refused to perform the ritual when the rest of us begged him to.

That evening the house opened and we sat the patrons excited for the show.  The theatre is always opened in stages and the company held the house for an extra half hour before the show started to address technical issues.  Once the show began there were multiple effect failures and not only did the intermission run long, they had to stop the show for an unscheduled break because the rotating wall wouldn’t move.  Once it was finally limping along again, key projections during the end didn’t appear.  I saw every performance of this show while it was there and the only performance to have that many problems was the one above.  I am not saying there is a curse, but the evidence speaks for itself.

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