A theatre is a sacred place for those of us who make it our home. And, it can be a dangerous place for those who don't respect its power. For example, pulling down a traveler (the curtain that moves across the stage) from running around the stage, can fall onto someone and hurt them badly and possibly break bones. There are things plugged in all over the perimeter of the stage that performers could trip on and cause many issues. Even the light fixtures that hang above the performers could fall, if not secured properly, onto a performer and cause catastrophic injuries.
Therefore, safety issues are essential and necessary. Those that don't need to be backstage don't need to be. Running is absolutely prohibited. Safety procedures and checks are done on a regular basis.
And . . . what about the performers?
Those who are working and volunteer to work with students must have a criminal record/vulnerable sector police check.
The theatre is a great place but must be respected. It is an amazing place that is steeped in traditions. Some of which we still keep near and dear to our hearts and belief systems. However, there are some that have been historical rules, that might not be followed and believed as closely.
Do you believe in superstitions? In the theatre world, it is believed from the performers or producers of theatrical pieces, that they can be taken away in a moment. Either people won't love your show and you will get canceled, or you are replaced by a better actor, or, yes something superstitious has happened and you have lost your job. Therefore, they don't take a chance. The following superstitions are known to most theatre people.
- break a leg - Could have a variety of possible origins. It may come from the ancient Greek practice of stomping feet instead of applauding, the Elizabethan term for bowing (to break the leg), the Vaudevillian practice of keeping actors just barely offstage (to break the leg of the curtain was to enter the playing space, and thus, get paid).
- bad dress good show - Actors swear by this term and believe that a bad dress rehearsal means they will have a great show.
- ghost light on stage - To scare off the theatre ghosts, many theatres will have a light, typically upstage centre, to ward off any ghosts that may be lingering.
- saying or not saying Macbeth on stage - a curse that dates back to the 17th century. Some believe that the play’s fictional incantations—“Double, double toil and trouble…” etc.,—are authentic examples of witchcraft, and therein lies the danger of speaking the title out loud.
- wearing blue - Wearing blue is considered unlucky. It is really believed that actors didn't wear blue because the color blue was expensive to dye material and therefore the superstition was born.
- not wearing peacock feathers or real jewelry - These banned items are said to cause forgotten lines, broken set pieces, and more live-performance disasters.
- no whistling on stage - This seemingly silly rule actually has its roots in safety; in the early days of large-scale stage productions, backstage crews communicated through whistling. They didn't have headsets etc, so by whistling stage crew know when to drop a backdrop etc. It is believed that sets could accidentally fall if you whistled communicating in error.
- sleep with your script under your pillow - The practice is said to help actors learn their lines faster and not forget lines.
- flowers at a performance - Claiming that gift prior to the start of a performance is said to cause a lackluster show. So please give flowers after the show.
Is there anything real to these superstitions? and which ones do you believe in and live by . . . or do you?