Theatrical superstitions and myths are real. Among the superstitious actors, it’s important to know them before ever entering or participating in a show, whether as a cast member or as an audience.
Follow along for the most famous superstitions that still linger on stages today.
Having three lit candles onstage – Having three lit candles on stage can bring bad luck. It is said that whoever is nearest to the shortest candle will be next to marry or die. Today, this is nothing but a rumor. Today, stages are instead lit by electrical lights. Instead of bad luck, having lit candles on or around the stage around flammable fresh paint, dim lighting and busy people will only burn the theater down.
Saying ‘Macbeth’ – If the name, ‘Macbeth’, is mentioned in a theatre there is a cleansing ritual to rectify the mistake. The ritual requires the person who said the name to leave the theatre building, spit, curse and spin around three times, before begging to be allowed back in. Other tricks also include, reciting a line from another Shakespearean work, brushing oneself off or running around the theatre counterclockwise. It is believed that Shakespeare got the words from a coven of real witches, and by using the word placed a curse on the play so no one, other than him, could correctly direct the play.
Bad Dress, Good Opening – Many stage actors believe that a bad and terrible dress rehearsal means a great opening night will occur. Although the origin is unclear, the comforting concept still continues today.
“Break a Leg” – Always replace the phrase “good luck” with “break a leg.” The saying might have originated from the ancient Greek practice of stomping feet instead of applauding. Others believed it could’ve originated from understudies jokingly wishing actors would “break a leg” so that their standbys were able to perform.
Flowers before the performance – Receiving flowers and a beautiful bouquet before a performance or recital is believed to cause a lackluster show. Instead, old school and new actors today require their flowers after the curtain call and never before!
Mirrors – Breaking a mirror can bring seven years of bad luck. However, breaking a mirror on stage will cause seven years of bad luck to the theatre. It is also believed that reflections from mirrors are distracting for lights, audience members and actors.