Macbeth and Macarons

by maxmosher

When it rains, it pours, which is how in one week I went from desperately begging for jobs (I even considered going back on the ol’ Vaudeville circuit) to having two at the same time. This is why my posting has been sparse in the last little while, as I’m sure you, my loyal reader, have noticed.

Suddenly, my life is very busy and it’s all about Macbeth and macarons.

I’ll start with the macarons. Finding a job is not just about talent. Talent is often not enough. As James Mason says in ‘A Star is Born’ you have to recognize an opportunity when it comes along and grab it. When a fabulous new Wornette mentioned that her chocolate shop had lost three workers in a row, I guessed that they were probably hiring. I showed up the next evening with my resume, the manager was right there and I was hired on the spot.

It is the fanciest place I’ve ever worked. It is also the most beautiful. I would describe the decor as that of a gay interior designer in the early-1960’s who was given the budget of an Old Hollywood fantasy and took that as his inspiration. And I mean that complimentary. It’s Audrey Hepburn and Paris in gleaming white and neon pink.

One of our specialties is our macarons, which I’ve been instructed to pronounce in the French way and never ‘macaroons’. They are soft and chewy, made fresh daily and come in all the colours of the pastel rainbow. They really are a bit of flaky heaven.

I had already started there when I received word that I got a job as an usher at a theatre which performs Shakespeare for high school kids, a job I applied for completely on a whim. I thought, if I’m going to be getting paid minimum wage for standing around (and yes, I had given up finding a ‘grown-up’ job again, here defined as any job in which you get to sit), I might as well be learning Shakespeare. And anything to be closer to the stage…!

I showed up for my first day and asked the other usher which play we were doing.

“Mackers,” she replied.

I almost uttered the name of the play she had avoided, caught myself and said “Oh, the Scottish play!”

For those not in the know, theatre people are quirkily commited to their traditions and one of the oldest is that ‘Macbeth’ is a cursed play and to say its name in a theatre is to bring on bad luck. Supposedly, it all goes back to the rumour that Shakespeare used some actual witches’ spells for the chants of the ‘Weird Sisters’ and a litany of productions that suffered some kind of catastrophe followed.

Now, stuff goes wrong in theatre all the time and, as one actor put it, “it’s a play where people run around in the dark with swords,” so some accidents are inevitable. While I enjoy the theatrical culture (it is partly why I took a job in which I herd teenagers into straight lines, a more difficult task than one expects), I am a die-hard skeptic and I have to scoff a bit at anyone who tells me what not to say based on superstition.

Turns out one of the actors felt the same way and made a big point of yelling the name of the play during a Q&A session after the first performance. That very afternoon, the trap door on the wooden platform where most of the action takes place broke open just as Lady Macduff was being strangled, sending her two feet down towards the stage. With a cord around her neck, she could’ve been killed, but because the actor who was ‘murdering’ went down with her, she was fine.

Like a trouper, she kept acting, which meant yelling “MURDER!” so, as her accompaning actor said, “I had to keep the scene going as well and continue to strangle her.” Amazingly, everyone was fine, but they still sealed up the trap door.

So now, when keener students ask about ‘the curse’ the company all chuckle and knock the wood of the stage. One of the actors points out that, considering what could have happened, the fact that nobody was injured is more of a blessing than a curse, but the others see it as a “warning”. As one of the actresses put it, “Weird shit happens with this play.”

Next week we start ‘Romeo and Juliet’, so the only M-word I’ll have to worry about accidentally slipping out is “macaroon”.