Acting Out – Tonight!

Taken by Dave Dellecese

(Place actually looks a bit different now.)

The time has come. Opening night. I haven’t had an opening night in over two years. We only had about 6 1/2 weeks to put this one together (the average is 8 weeks; just 1 1/2 weeks doesn’t sound like a big deal, but considering how quickly a show needs to come together on only 2-3 rehearsals a week…um, yeah, it is). For the most part, it looks as if we had over 8 weeks. Yep, lookin’ good! (jinx!)

I’m stupid crazy excited. Yes, stupid crazy. I’m surprised I’m actually coherent with my students today ‘cuz my brain is wackadoo.

Yet, I’m trying to reign myself in. Actors (and Irish, incidentally) are by nature a superstitious lot. So, just for fun (and since St. Patrick’s Day is on Monday, and I’m both Irish AND an actor), I thought I’d share a handful of the superstitions I’ve heard of and found more about when it comes to theatre. (Read: thee-AY-tre…ahem…just kidding)

Don’t say “good luck.” — Don’t you dare! It’s bad luck to say “good luck” and it must be “cancelled out” by either cursing or having the cast wish one another “bad luck.” The term “break a leg” is acceptable, although there are several possible reasons for its etymology. (Please don’t tell my students I’m citing Wikipedia. Mkay? Thanks.)

Similarly, no flowers until after your first performance. You haven’t even performed yet. How do you know if you’ll succeed? You don’t. It’s a jinx to accept (or be given) flowers before you tread the boards. It’s kind of like how I can’t get overly calm or “we got this, yo” because I’ve already jinxed myself. Nothing is definite, not until after our final performance. There’s always a new line that decides to jump your thought processes. Don’t. Get. Over-confident.

Ghosts haunt theaters and need one night alone on the stage. This superstition harkens back to the ghost of Thespis of Athens (6th century B.C.), although every theater supposedly has its own ghost. (Ours, we call George, although there is talk that there has been a female sighting in our attic from outside. I’ve seen and experienced George’s presence and sense of humor, so I know this one to be true. No foolin’.) I have just recently heard of the “one night alone” theory, but we try to have one dark night before starting the show’s run to rest up and be with our families before the “craziness starts.”

Ghost light. Linked to the previous thought, a ghost light (sometimes placed downstage, center) is put in place to keep the spirits at bay. However, out of practicality, this one makes a lot of sense. Ours is actually backstage near our electric box switches, which makes it easier when you’re entering a creepy, dark theater to see your way to the switches.

No whistling allowed. Okay, I just learned about this one quite recently from a fellow actor, although I’ve also read a different reason for it. As told, whistling (pre-walkie talkies) was a way to cue folks who were working above the scenery to a change. Allegedly, if someone was carelessly whistling, they were at greater risk of being nailed on the head with a sandbag. Alternately, I’ve read that it would miscue someone, leading to someone possibly losing their job. Either way, I get the evil eye when I thoughtlessly whistle…then Dick turns around three times, spits and swears. You can’t make this $%&# up.

Don’t say “MacBeth.” There are many reasons not to say the name of this play, as well as ways to amend your problem if you do. So, just don’t. 😉

Blue not allowed, unless accompanied by silver. Oops! I didn’t know this one until just now! Blue dye was such a valuable commodity that it could lead to the theater’s misfortune if it was worn onstage. The only saving grace would be to wear silver along with it to show your audience that you do, indeed, have a reliable backer (who could afford to furnish the blue dyed clothes AND silver). I, along with my “fiance” Jerry, are wearing a beautiful turquoise. Luckily, I’m wearing my silver engagement ring (yes, I take off my wedding ring when necessary, and hide it from George)…maybe I should suggest he wear something silver, too. Gah!

Side note: Green (blending with the outdoors when actors once put shows on outside; also corpse-like) and yellow (the color always worn by an actor playing the devil) are also bad luck. Jeez. What CAN’T we wear??

Bad dress rehearsal, good opening night. SOOOO many reasons this is used (scare the cast straight? Make them feel better if it’s a rough go?) Either way, it has made me feel better plenty of times. Our dress rehearsal went well, although there were areas that we could fix (I’m beating myself up over one line lapse that lasted a couple of seconds…but felt like 10), so I feel that’s enough to get us through. RIGHT???

If you find these interesting, check out the miscellaneous extras here. Neat stuff!

Oh, and for the curiosity-minded of you, I’m going to try to take a picture or two of my costumes this weekend to share what “style” I ended up going with. Or you could just come see the show and see for yourself. Either/or. 😉 (I know, quite impossible for most of you, but still…it’s a nice thought!)

For now, I’ll be getting to the theater early to do my hair/makeup and look over lines (hopefully “quietly”) before we begin. Can’t be too safe! DON’T wish me luck!! 😉

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