Blue is an unlucky color for an actor to wear the world over, silver being it's only saving relief. Certain shades of yellow, also, are considered unlucky, particularly in a tie, a vest, or a hat. It is believed to be disastrous to allow a yellow clarinet in the orchestra.

The Origin:

In the early days of theatre, blue was an extremely difficult dye color to create, and therefore was very expensive. Any theatre company spending such extravagant amounts on costumes was sure to close without turning a profit. Unless, of course, they were wearing silver, which was an indicator that the entire company was being funded by a VERY wealthy source; wealthy enough to afford silver adornments.

 



Green and yellow, during the era of the morality plays, were often considered a symbol of the Devil. A devil in disguise might be identified by wearing a green or yellow tie, vest, or hat. As for the yellow clarinet… I'm open to suggestions!

 


Professional actors consider it a bad sign if a rehearsal is perfect. The play will have a very short run after a perfect rehearsal, or will go very badly. Similarly, it is extremely unlucky to speak the tag line, or the last line of the play, during rehearsals. The line which completes the play must not be spoken until the opening night of the show.

The Origin:

After a perfect rehearsal a cast and crew tends to feel as if they are "prepared" for the production. They lose their nervous edge and adrenaline and, believing themselves to be fully prepared, stop paying close attention while on stage. The last line of a show completes the play, and a production is never complete until it is before an audience.

 


 

It is considered very bad luck to wish an actor (or director, or playwright) "Good Luck" before a performance. Instead, you should say to him or her "Break A Leg".


The Origin:

Wishing anyone, particularly an actor, "Good Luck" is apt to fill them with confidence – feeling as though they have "luck" on their side. Confidence in an actor can quickly lead to catastrophe, as it causes them to lose focus. "Break a Leg" is a very old military term for "taking a knee", or bending down to one knee and breaking the line of the leg. In the theatre it is a reference to "taking a bow". To wish someone to "Break A Leg" is to ask them to give the best performance they are capable so that they may deserve to take a bow at performance end – or, to "Break A Leg".

 


There is a superstition that if an emptied theater is ever left completely dark, a ghost will take up residence. In other versions the same superstition the ghosts of past performances return to the stage to live out their glory moments. To prevent this, a single light is left burning at center stage after the audience and all of the actors and musicians have gone.

The Origin:

The origin of this superstition is rooted in both practicality and further superstition itself! The practicality, of course, is that people coming into a darkened theatre cannot see what delicate costumes, sharp and pointy props, and dangerous set pieces have been left lying about, and a light is important to prevent injury, property damage, or lawsuits.

The other reason lends itself to further superstition. A "dark" theatre is a theatre without a play. There is nothing more sad to a drama artist than an empty house and a playless stage. Therefore a light is left burning center stage so that the theatre is never "dark". It is simply awaiting the next production.
 

submitted by Paul Garza, Technical Director, San Pedro Playhouse

 

Links to More Superstitions:

Defy Macbeth
Steppenwolf

 

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