Today is Friday the 13th, and this date has long been considered as the unluckiest day of the year. This is a time where superstitions get amped up to avoid the fate of things going terribly wrong. Yet, did you know theatres have their own types of superstitions? We’ve rounded up a list of 13 outlandish superstitions and sources of bad luck for theatres.
1) A Bad Dress Rehearsal Means The Show Will Be A Hit
The idea behind this superstition comes from an old wives’ tale, but the theory is that a bad dress rehearsal will result in a great opening night.
2) Blue Should Not Be Worn On Stage
This superstition is more of a rumour that was started than an actual superstition. Long ago, blue dye was the most expensive to make for colouring fabrics. To discourage the spending of money on such luxuries, the rumour was started that blue costumes were unlucky.
3) Turn On The Ghost Light Before Leaving The Theatre
A ghost light is a light that remains turned on in the center of the stage when all other lights have been turned out. Practicality might be part of it since there is always a plethora of obstacles (furniture, trap doors, and orchestra pits) that could lead to accidents in the dark. More superstitious theatre folk believe that the ghost light helps to keep spirits at bay, including the ghost of Thespis (the first actor), and preventing them from playing mischievous pranks.
4) Never Light A Trio Of Candles
With open flame being dangerous in the first place, the more sources of open flame there is, the more of a risk there is for a fire. The superstition of burning three candles comes from the belief that the person who stands closest to the shortest candle will be the first to die.
5) Never Bring A Peacock Feather On Stage
This superstition comes from the pattern on the feather that some people believe looks like the evil eye. Theatre productions don’t want to risk offending their audience with this curse, which is supposed to bring misfortune or injury to anyone who casts it.
6) Mirrors On Stage Are Bad Luck
Mirrors are considered bad luck because they reflect light which can wreak havoc with the lighting design of a production. One wrong hit with a spotlight and you could have a blinded performer walk off the edge of the stage.
7) Whistling Backstage In A Theatre Is Considered A Jinx
In the older days, scenery was manually lifted into the air by men using ropes. The stagehands would cue each other by whistling. If an actor were to whistle backstage, that may cue a stagehand to lift or drop scenery, which could potentially put an unaware performer at risk of being crushed.
8) Cats Walking Across A Stage Is A No-NO
Most theatres use to keep a cat or two to get rid of mice and rats that could nibble through costumes and scenery. However, it is bad luck if a cat runs across the stage during a performance. Yet, being greeted at the stage door by the theatre cat is good luck, and the cat rubbing against you or sitting on your knee brings excellent luck and good reviews.
9) Never Say Macbeth In A Theatre
It is considered bad luck to say the name of Shakespeare’s “Scottish play” inside of a theatre. This is due to some of the play drawing on witchcraft incantations that supposedly call upon evil spirits. Others suggest that the original actor who played Macbeth died tragically during the performance and the show has been cursed ever since.
10) Sleep With Your Script Under Your Pillow
Theatrical superstition says sleeping with your script under your pillow will help you learn your lines faster. The practice is said to help actors learn by diffusion.
11) Do Not Give Gifts Of Flowers Before The Performance
Flowers should only be given to performers, directors and playwrights after a show plays in front of the audience and the artists have earned their accolades. To do so beforehand tempts the fates to intercede and ensures a lacklustre show.
12) Loose Threads Must Be Snapped Off
If a performer finds a loose thread on their costume, another performer must snap (never cut, it means the run will be cut short!) the thread off, and wrap it around their forefinger. The amount of loops indicates how long the run of the show will be.
14) Speaking The Last Line Of The Play
An old superstition says that a cast should never speak the last line of the play in rehearsals as it means that in performance the play will never get through a performance. It also supposed to relate to the idea that the play is not ‘finished’ until there is an audience there.