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Oct 28

Witches' Night Out

Witches' Blood
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Weird Sisters
by Fionacreates
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"Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble." ~ Song of the Witches, MacBeth, William Shakespeare, (c. 1603-1607)

Macbeth's Hillock near Brodie, between Forres and Nairn in Scotland, has long been identified as the mythical meeting place of Macbeth and the witches, also known as the Weird Sisters or Wayward Sisters, who stir "a charm of powerful trouble." According to a theatrical superstition, called the Scottish curse, speaking the name Macbeth inside a theatre, other than as called for in the script while rehearsing or performing, will cause disaster! Because of this superstition, the lead character is often referred to as the Scottish King or Scottish Lord. Actors also avoid even quoting the lines from Macbeth before performances, particularly the witches' incantations. Outside a theatre and after a performance, the play can be spoken of openly. However, if an actor speaks the name "Macbeth" in a theatre prior to one of the performances, he or she is required to leave the theatre building, spin around three times, spit, curse, and then knock to be allowed back in!

Shakespeare's witches are prophets who hail Macbeth, the general, early in the play, and prophesy his ascent to king. Upon killing King Duncan and ascending the throne of Scotland, Macbeth hears them ambiguously prophesy his eventual downfall. The darkly contradictory witches, their "filthy" trappings and supernatural activities, all set the ominous tone for the play.

Shakespeare's creation of the Three Witches may have also been influenced by an anti-witchcraft law passed by King James nine years previously, a law that was to stay untouched for over 130 years.  Macbeth's Hillock near Brodie, between Forres and Nairn in Scotland, has long been identified as the mythical meeting place of Macbeth and the witches.  And traditionally, Forres is believed to have been the home of both Duncan and Macbeth.

Inspired by Stratford Festival's 2016 production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, this tartan was created to coincide with worldwide celebrations of the playwright's enduring legacy, 400 years after his death in 1616.

As described by the designer:

"Macbeth abounds in images of blood and the darkness of night, hence the tartan's striking use of red and black. The charcoal tone, equivocating between the polar opposites of black and white, evokes both the literal and moral fog of an uncanny world in which, as the Weird Sisters (or witches) proclaim, 'Fair is foul, and foul is fair.'"

In theatrical circles, there are several superstitions regarding Shakespeare's Macbeth.  The play is said to be cursed, so actors avoid saying its name when in the theatre (the euphemism "The Scottish Play" is used instead). Actors also avoid even quoting the lines from Macbeth before performances, particularly the witches' incantations.  Outside a theatre and after a performance, the play can be spoken of openly. If an actor speaks the name "Macbeth" in a theatre prior to one of the performances, he or she is required to leave the theatre building, spin around three times, spit, curse, and then knock to be allowed back in!

For the text of Macbeth's meeting with the witches including the entire witches' brew recipe from Act IV, Scene 1, click the Weird Sisters painting by "Fionacreates."