Break a leg…what???
When you wish a theatre performer good luck, you usually say, “Break a leg!” Why? Well, I must confess, I did not know this answer for a long time. I remember looking it up a while ago and found that there was no consistent answer…but now I think I found one. Take a peek:
Here are some other theatre expressions that you may have heard and my thoughts about where they came from:
“Merde” – Dancers commonly say “Merde” before a performance. (“Good luck” is ….well..bad luck). This comes from the 19th century when ballet was coming into fashion. It is a French term meaning – poop..or sh*t. It refers to the horse drawn buggies in front of the theatres. And, if there was a lot of poop in front of the theatre that meant it was a full house!
“The Scottish Play” – I had a theatre professor in college who never said “Macbeth”. He always said, “The Scottish Play.” I never knew why until a senior told me that there was a superstition around the play for several reasons. First, because supposedly Shakespeare used a real witch’s incantation in the play….remember “Bubble, Bubble, toil and trouble?” In addition, people believed that the play is Shakespeare’s most mysterious. It appears to be his shortest, his most incomplete (this could be because the entire play may not have been preserved) and on the eve of the first production the actor playing Lady Macbeth (all roles were played by men back then) died suddenly after the performance.
What are your favorite theatre myths and expressions?