Shakespeare is having a moment. Again. Given that William Shakespeare is arguably the most memorable playwright of all time, it's no surprise that his shows continue not just to be shared and acted in schools, but also on the Broadway stage.
This year, four of Shakespeare's plays made it to the Great White Way — and one was so enthralling, it was worthy of two different renditions.
While some of the Shakespeare shows were modernized (Romeo and Juliet), others stay as close to the original 17th century performances as possible (Richard III/Twelfth Night). Here's a breakdown of the shows that helped make 2013 the "Year of Shakespeare" on Broadway.
Alan Cumming's Macbeth
Starring: Alan Cumming
Opening Date: April 21, 2013
Closing Date: July 14, 2013
About This Rendition: Performed at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, Alan Cumming's one-man rendition of Macbeth was called a "tour-de-force that redefines the term" by Associated Press. The critically acclaimed show featured Cumming playing each role in Macbeth, but with a twist: the entire thing took place in an asylum ward.
When Broadway's Macbeth opened on Sunday, guests were asked to do something a little out of the ordinary: refrain from speaking the play’s name while inside the venue.
Signs were posted on all of Ethel Barrymore Theatre's doors, requesting that audience members adhere to the rule. Written in capital letters, each sign read, "Warning! You are about to enter the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The producers ask that you please refrain from speaking the name of the play you are about to see while inside these walls."
If it sounds weird, that's only because it is, but with good reason. The play is cursed. Or at least it’s believed to be, despite the fact that this version of Macbeth is a one-man show, performed by Alan Cumming, with modern twists that move it away from its traditional Shakespearean roots.
According to the legend, mentioning the title of a Shakespeare while in a theater evokes some type of disaster — but it’s worst for Macbeth, so actors often call it "The Scottish Play" or "The Bard's Play" instead. If an actor accidentally mentions the name of the play (in the theater, prior to a performance), then he or she must leave the building, spin around three times, spit, curse, and then knock in order to be let back in. (There are a few variations, but the gist is always the same.) Other precautions include actors refraining from quoting any of the lines from Macbeth prior to a performance (must make rehearsal a bit challenging?), especially the Witches’ incantations. This is serious stuff, guys!