“Is there a doctor in the house?” - Those are word you never really want to hear. But these words were said, when actress Shobna Gulati, 52, was injured during a performance of Richard III at the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.
She was playing the Duke of York when the accident happened. She was appearing as part of the first all-women-of-colour company to stage a Shakespeare play in the UK. Of course the show was stopped and the other performances were cancelled and an investigation is ongoing. Shobna Gulati is recovering at home and we hope she will be able to return to the stage soon.
So let’s take a look at other onstage mishaps that have affected various productions. You can call it superstition all you like, but Shakespeare himself thought that his master play “Macbeth” was cursed. To this day actors avoid calling the play by name until opening night and say the Scottish play instead. We’ll leave you with that thought, when we tell you that Macbeth production appear to have the highest incident rate.
- In 1672, the actor playing Macbeth used a real dagger, as opposed to the prop he was supposed to use, and killed Duncan on stage right in front of the audience.
- In 1775, Sarah Siddons, playing Lady Macbeth, was nearly killed by an enraged audience.
- In 1948, Diana Wynard fell 15 feet into a pit during a production of The Scottish Play when she walked off the stage with her eyes closed in the sleepwalking scene.
- At the Old Vic in London, the production of Macbeth in 1937 had a 25lb weight falling from the ceiling and missed the great Laurence Olivier by a few inches. The Old Vic founder, Lilian Baylis, died on the night of the final dress rehearsal.
- The audience in Vienna in 2008 was impressed how real a suicide scene looked in Maria Stuart during which the actor was suppossed to slit his throat. With a prop knife of course! However the knife turned out to be real. The prop knife broke during rehearsal and a new one was brought, but unfortunantely they failed to make the knife blunt. Hoevels slit his throat with the knife and stumpled off stage. He was rushed to hospital and survived.
- Royal Shakespeare Company actor Darrell D’Silva shot himself in the hand during a scene of Anthony and Cleopatra. The continued to do the other shows with a bandaged hand and an arm sling.