13 Superstitions

Every Theater Kid Should Know

13 Superstitions

  1. 1. Never wish another actor “Good luck.” 

            Always say “Break a leg.”

  1. 2. Never whistle on stage.

            There’s a historical reason for this one. Retired sailors used to be hired to raise and lower the curtain and the heavy flats that hung above the actors’ heads. They communicated by whistling, just like they did when they were on board a ship. An actor whistling at the wrong time could bring a ton of scenery down on his head.

  1. 3.Never sing or hum the tune of “Three Blind Mice.”

            It’s just plain unlucky, though no one knows why.

4. Never wear a blue costume.

          If the costume mistress insists, ask her to add a little silver

            to it. A blue and silver costume is OK. If she won’t put

            anything silver on the outside of the costume, put a safety pin inside it.

  1. 5. Never wear real jewelry onstage.

               That’s how  “costume jewelry” got its name.  

  1. 6. Beware of peacock feathers. Never wear them, use them as a prop or decorate a set with them.

            Peacock feathers are so unlucky, they shouldn’t be anywhere near a stage.

  1. 7. Never look at the audience from the other side of the curtain.

  1. 8. Never upset the theater cat.

            It’s very lucky if your theater has a cat. Bothering one in any way is very unlucky.    


  1. 9. Never say the last line of a script before the first performance.

  1. 10.Never leave the theatre without turning on the ghost light.

            This superstition serves two purposes. It keeps away the ghosts of previous actors, who might want to play malicious tricks, and provides enough light to keep someone from falling into the orchestra pit.      

The last three superstitions are all about one play by William Shakespeare, the most unlucky play in the history of the theater. It’s so unlucky, I won’t write the name here, but if you go to page 46 in PLAYING JULIET, Beth’s friend, Zandy has figured it out.


11. Never utter the title of this play inside a theater.

            If you absolutely have to speak of it, call it Scottish play.


12. Unless you are acting in Shakespeare’s Scottish play, never say the name of the title character or his wife.

              If you absolutely have to speak of them, call him the Scottish Lord. Call her the Scottish Lady.    


13.  Never quote a line from the Scottish play unless you are acting in a production of it.                

                Even appearing in it is considered unlucky. Stories

                are told about such disasters as falling scenery, lopped off thumbs, riots and deaths that have occurred during the run of this play.



How to lift the jinx

from any mention of

Shakespeare’s Scottish play.


Theater superstitions rarely come with reasons. Most actors don’t know how these superstitions started, but they believe that when they’re inside a theater, doing or saying anything on this list will bring bad luck.

Go outside.

Turn around three times, widdershins. 



Knock on the door, and beg to be let back in.

If you are allowed to come back,

             the jinx will be lifted.