1966: The Scottish Play

John Clements succeeded Laurence Olivier as CFT's second Artistic Director in 1966, continuing the actor-director model.

His first season included The Clandestine Marriage, The Cherry Orchard and Macbeth. The Scottish play's reputation as being unlucky certainly held true: a rehearsal of the duel scene ended in Ray McAnally (playing Macduff) being taken to A&E with a broken nose and two black eyes.

History repeated itself when Macbeth was restaged in 2019. Stuart Laing (playing Banquo) badly banged his head during his death sequence, and the large glass set - supposedly "unbreakable" - shattered mid-performance and halted the show at the interval. Luckily no incidents occurred during the 2007 version of Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart in the Minerva. Perhaps the cast were more cautious with superstition!

John Clements and Margaret Johnson as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, 1966 Image: Zoe Dominic
The cast of Macbeth on stage in 1966 Image: Zoe Dominic
Act 3 Scene 4, Macbeth sees Banquo's ghost at the banquet Image: Zoe Dominic