Macbeth is a classic tale of a doomed king that has been performed by acting troupes for centuries. It remains one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, though theatrical productions have long been said to be plagued by accidents. There were a lot of powdered-wig related calamities in the olden days. This was supposedly due to the inclusion of actual witchcraft in the play, more specifically the “Double-double, toil and trouble” routine which clued in astute viewers towards the many despicable uses of eye of newt and blind worm’s sting.
It was thus a common superstition that anyone foolish enough to say the name ‘Macbeth’ would have horrible tragedy befall them. Such misfortune could theoretically be prevented by spitting over one’s left shoulder, twisting the person’s nose, or speaking a sentence from one of Shakespeare’s other plays. “If we shadows have offended…” was generally considered a suitable choice, but “He will give the Devil his due” was not a good idea. The actor had already drawn the attention of Old Scratch, and didn’t want to give the nasty fellow any ideas.