I should never have started that Blog about superstition! It was Blog 315 for Saturday the 25th and when I came to open and post what I had written I couldn’t find it. So where could I have saved it? We searched everywhere but it had completely disappeared and eventually we gave up and I decided to rewrite it; a shorter version. I know I’m getting terribly absentminded in old age but obviously I didn’t save it in the Blogs folder. Anyway, having rewritten and posted it, I did what I always do, went to the penultimate Blog, that is 314, the one of Thursday the 23rd to see if there were any comments and what do I find? The first paragraph was all that was left of 314 after which there was the original Blog 315 in all its glory superseding it. Now how the hell did that happen because whatever I wrote in 314 has mainly disappeared and there are two 315’s? What a mess! Oh how on earth did I manage to save 315 on top of 314? I have no idea. I have already had one message to tell me I have repeated myself again but this time it was purely accidental and in future I will take great care in saving in the right folder. In the meantime whatever it was I wrote in 314 I have no memory of it whatsoever.
Anyway, there was a comment on the mix-up page. EGL wanted to know how the actors’ superstition regarding the ‘Scottish’; play came about. Nobody really knows but the belief is it harks back to the old actor/managers touring the provinces who, if they had a bad week at the box-office on the last night put on the Scottish play which was sure to bring them in. Then, if the company weren’t too careful the manager skedaddled with the takings and the company were left stranded and unpaid. That’s the story anyway.
Now, apart from the way I put on my footwear, I have to admit to having a sneaking respect for this particular superstition. The first time I was made acquainted with the Scottish play was when I was at university in Pietermaritzburg and the play was being produced. On either side of the great hall were two wells open to the elements and extra soldiers waiting to go on to join the battle, being somewhat cold, took to the bottle with the result being mayhem. Lesson – you do not wield a broadsword if you’re seven sheets to the wind or whatever that expression is. Maybe it’s nine sheets. Well, whatever…
But, if someone did quote that play did I ever experience incidences of bad luck while I was still an actor laddie? Well, while at the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow the play was jokingly quoted twice, the first time during an Anhouilh play in which there were a number of small girls, one of whom had to be rushed to hospital with a lollipop stuck in her throat. I’m pleased to say she did recover but it was a close call. The second time was during a rehearsal for Hamlet. The rehearsal room was pretty isolated; a room at the top of a building, and after the rehearsal everyone went home but one of the ASMS was found the following morning still in the rehearsal room having developed schizophrenia and was wandering around seeing Jesus in a burning bush. Okay, so okay, the schizophrenia would have developed anyway but what do you make of this? When I was directing at RADA I was going in to lunch one day when I met a member of staff in the corridor who quoted the play, and when I remonstrated with him, laughed the whole thing off. I had my lunch and on my way back to rehearsal the head accosted me and said, ‘I’m sorry, Glyn. You’ve lost your leading man. He’s been taken to hospital having had his eye badly injured in a sword fight.’ Now is that scary or is it not?
So the lesson is, whether you believe the superstition or not, why chance it? Of course producing or being in the play is another matter altogether, it’s only quotes off that bring the bad luck and the antidote (if I can all it that and for those who may not know) is to turn around three times while saying the line from Hamlet, ‘Angels and ministers of grace defend us.’
So there you are.