Mae West: Superstitious
• • "What are those strange shiny animals?" strangers ask me. It is my elaborate fetish necklace, given to me by David, a darling man, weeks before he died, to keep me safe. The one time I did not wear it to a "Courting Mae West" rehearsal, poltergeists manifested themselves to the entire cast — — and we can only hope these were good spirits who visited.
• • Read more about this supernatural visitation — — http://courtingmaewest.blogspot.com/2008/06/mae.html
• • Here are some popular "Theatrical and Stage Superstitions."
• • Actors say it is very lucky to have a cat in the theatre. But if a cat runs across the stage during a performance, misfortune will follow.
• • When rehearsing a play, the actors ensure that they are perfect in every line except the last one, or tag, as it is called. This is never uttered until the first night of the actual performance, when the success or otherwise of the production is ascertained by the extent of the applause which follows the last line.
• • When applying greasepaint and stage make-up, an actress regards it as an omen that she will receive a good contract if she accidentally smears lipstick on her teeth.
• • Upsetting a make-up box forecasts evil. Powder, if dropped, should be danced upon to bring luck.
• • It is very unlucky to use real mirrors on stage. Also an actor should not look into a mirror over the shoulder of another, so that the two reflections are seen together.
• • If an actor or actress notices a loose thread on a person's clothes, he or she will pluck off the loose thread, pass it three times round the head, and then tuck it down the neck of his or her garments. The loose thread forecasts a new contract and the magical rite is said to ensure its receipt.
• • To whistle in the dressing room or backstage is bad luck. If somebody does it, the individual must go out of the dressing room, turn around three times, and then knock on the door and ask for permission to be admitted. Why? This superstition supposedly originated because backstage crew members were often recruited from the Navy since sailors were good at handling the ropes used to raise and lower the scenery. The director would often whistle for scene changes. Any actor whistling backstage could inadvertently cause a scene change.
• • All sorts of dolls and mascots are kept in an actress's dressing room in order to bring her success. [One of the actresses in Courting Mae West wears a green rabbit on her shoulder before starting her scenes.]
• • Each telegram of congratulations and opening night greetings will be pinned to the wall and dearly treasured and not removed.
• • Actors never wish each other good luck before a performance because it might have the opposite effect. It is more common to tell an actor heading for the stage to break a leg, knock 'em dead, or to say "see you on the green."
• • Do not wear green onstage. Why? A green light was often used to illuminate characters; this limelight would make anyone clad in green seem practically invisible.
• • If an actress receives flowers as a present, she may wear them before or after the performance. But it is considered very unlucky to wear fresh flowers on the stage. Artificial ones are used instead.
• • Certain tunes are considered unlucky in the theatre, for example, "Three Blind Mice."
• • The looping of a drop curtain is the certain forerunner of evil — — and nearly every actor and manager believes it is bad luck to look at the audience from the wrong side of the curtain.
• • In the British theatres, to trip on entering the scene on the first night of a play is a sure sign of success. Also, if an actress trips over the hem of her dress, she should pick it up and kiss it. This, it is said, will bring a contract for the actress.
• • There is a superstition that if an emptied theater is ever left completely dark, a ghost will take up residence. In other versions of the same superstition, the ghosts of past performances return to the stage to live out their glory moments. To prevent this, a single light is left burning at center stage after the audience and all of the actors and musicians have gone. This illumination is called "the ghostlight."
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" opens at 6 o'clock on Saturday night July 19, 2008 at the Algonquin Theatre [East 24th Street and Park Avenue South].
• • "COURTING MAE WEST" — — showtimes
• • July 19th, 2008 — — 6:00 PM
• • July 20th, 2008 — — 2:00 PM matinee
• • July 21st, 2008 — — 6:00 PM
• • July 22nd, 2008 — — 9:00 PM
• • Tickets to "COURTING MAE WEST" are $18 per adult.
• • Theatermania.com sells the tickets — — http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/144297
• • Questions? Phone 212-779-3051.
• • The play is 95 minutes.
• • Get ready to come up and see Mae West, Texas Guinan, and the gang onstage in mid-July 2008.
Courting Mae West
• • Photo: Mae West • • 1928 • •