Actor folk are no doubt a superstitious lot, and given the contribution of luck in their success, it is not surprising that actors have maintained certain superstitions on stage. Some of these superstitions are irrational and have no concurrent evidences to support their theory, while others are based on proven claims. This article attempts to unravel some of the most common superstitions that prevail among actors, and will also try to explain the corresponding theories behind their existence.
Here we go:
Wearing blue on stage
Actors since times unknown have avoided wearing the colour blue on stage, unless the blue attire was countered with some silver tones. This superstition dates back to early times when blue colour dyes were difficult to make and actors would adorn them to fool their audience and give them the impression of false success and a star status. Wearing of silver along with blue signified an authentic wealthy background of the actor.
The Unlucky Three
Actors have always avoided having three candles alight on stage, during rehearsals or actual execution of plays. They believe it brings bad luck as apparently the person standing closest to the candles will get married early and will also die early. This superstition originates from the early times when electricity was not yet introduced to theatre and it was lit using candles. The latter only increased the risk of fire and might have brought about burn accidents in actors of the past.
No Peacock feathers onstage
Peacock feathers are believed by actors to be malevolent and a curse to the sets. This superstition is based on a Greek myth which states that peacock feathers have a monster eyes that can only bring bad luck and chaos. Indeed, whenever peacock feathers have been used as costume elements, or props, sets have collapsed, curtains have caught alight or other disastrous events have ensued.
Gift of Graveyard Flowers
It is considered a good omen to gift fellow actors, graveyard flowers at the closing ceremony, or after the play or film releases. Graveyard flowers like lilies and pansies are given at the end of the performance and not before, to symbolize complete detachment from the show and moving on with life.
The Mirror curse
The mirror superstition is probably the most universal of all myths and it is staunchly believed by actors that breaking of mirrors bring about seven years of bad luck. This belief is based on the logic that the mirror forms a reflection of the actor and breaking it breaks the reflection too. This weakens the essence of the soul and creates misfortune.
Empty theatres and film sets are always kept alight in order to ward off malefic spirits and invite positive souls. Although this is a superstition, it has a lot of practical use in that, well-lit stages are lesser prone to accidents and injuries to actors.
Wishing good luck
Actors are always careful about wishing bad luck to each other before the camera starts rolling or the curtains draw up. The believe that wishing someone ‘best of luck’ before the show is a sign of an impending flop show. In many theatre groups, the phrase ‘break a leg’ substitutes for ‘good luck’!
The actual list of actor superstitions is quite exhaustive and may differ among actors of varying cultural backgrounds and mentality. Some superstitions have gained worldwide acceptance and actors swear by them, while others are simply good for some light-hearted humor. Whatever it is, actors do every bit to take precautions, believe in these superstitions and never push their luck too far!