Acting and Stage Tales


Every performer has their own superstitions and things they must always do, or must never do to ensure that they perform at their very best. Some athletes will only work with one piece of equipment and some singers will always warm up with the same song. Unlike these superstitions, here are some old wives tales relating to the theatre and stage acting that were widely accepted for a long time (and some still are!)

  • Actors will recite every line during rehearsal until the play is perfected. However, the last line (or “tag” line) will never be said until the first public performance. It was once believed that saying the last line brought bad luck to the play and that no performance of that play by those same actors would ever be successful.

  • When an actress is applying her makeup before a play, it’s a sign that she is about to receive a very good contract if she accidentally gets some lipstick on her teeth.

  • If someone whistles backstage or in a dressing room, it’s considered to be bad luck. This is because directors often whistled to let his stage hands know that it was time for a scene change. By whistling, there would often be an automatic scene change. To undo the bad luck, the person must leave the room, turn around three times, knock on the door and ask if they can come back into the room.

  • It’s bad luck to wish an actor good luck. Instead it’s often said, “Break a leg,” Knock ‘em dead,” and “See you on the green.”

  • The colour green should not be worn onstage during a performance. This is because plays were once performed outdoors and actors could not be seen well against the green grass if they also were wearing green. Another reason for this tale is that characters were sometimes illuminated in a green spotlight (limelight) and would not be very visible onstage if they were wearing green.

  • Macbeth is thought to be the most unlucky play ever. Actors would never refer to it by name, instead calling it Mr. and Mrs. M. or That Play.

Acting and Stage Tales

Acting and Stage Tales

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