Friday, April 20, 2007

Break a Leg

Yesterday was opening day for the production of The Wizard of Oz in which my daughter plays a munchkin. As I was driving her to the theater early in the morning, I was trying to explain the custom of saying "Break a Leg!" to an actor about to perform.

She didn't get it. "But why would breaking your leg be good luck? Who would do your part if you broke your leg?" I let the matter drop.

When I picked her up that afternoon, she was near tears. While eating her lunch backstage, she had lost a tooth--then literally lost the tooth. She had enlisted the help of castmates to search for it, but to no avail. She was distraught, because she has the other teeth she's lost collected in a "tooth safe" she was given by her school when she lost her first tooth in kindergarten. When we got home, we dumped out the contents of her lunch bag and sifted through carefully. There, in the crumbs at the bottom of her bag of pretzels, was the missing tooth. Great relief.

I think from now on, the good luck wishes for those in our family with theatrical aspirations will be, "Lose a Tooth!"


SpookyRach said...

Hee hee! That's really funny! I gotta admit, I don't get the leg thing, either.

Gord said...

Theater folk are a superstitious lot (if you don't believe me go backstage sometime and start mentioning-by name or by quotes- the play Macbeth. TO be wished good luck is seen as a curse so you get wished bad luck (break a leg) as some sort of blessing.

No it doesn't make sense. But then a lot of things in this world make as much or less sense--and don't get me started on the wierd things we do in the church.

Anonymous said...

I watched a college production of Macbeth (uh . . . "the Scottish play") not six months ago where the lead actor (in the second-to-last scene) fell and injured his leg so much they had to stop the play and take him away on a stretcher.

Presbyterian Gal said...

I come from the theater *pronounce THEEEAHTAH with grand arm gesture* so allow me to explain the "break a leg" history:

In olde England theater, when one's performance was exceedingly good the audience would throw money onto the stage as your "tip". The actor would then have to kneel, aka "break the leg at the knee", to bend down and pick up the money.

When Broadway took this on, it was customary to bow deeply at standing ovations, causing one to bend at the knee, aka "break a leg".

There you have it. Though I still don't know where the notion of peacock feathers backstage being extremely bad luck came from.

greenjade123 said...

I use the opera version of "break a leg" with my son before his theater performances -- in bocca al lupo, or into the wolf's mouth -- it's an accurate description of going out onstage.

ellbee said...

I can understand the tooth drama as well... our boy lost a molar on vacation last month, which I put in my bag for safe keeping. Couldn't imagine what the airport security might make of it, but I digress.

Upon our return, I made the grand announcement that we'd place the tooth in the customary tooth fairy cup on top of the fridge... only to find it was lost again.

One anxious day later (after all a molar is worth much more than those tiny teeth), it turned up again.

I hope your munchkin had a great time on stage!

Karla MG said...

Must be the time for losing teeth! 7 yr old DD2 lost one 2 weeks ago, now has 3 more loose. 7 yr old DS lost both top front teeth the same day, now 3 weeks ago. And last week, 10 yr old DD1 came bounding ecstatically in the door after school..."MOOOOMMMMM, I did it! I finally did it!" What? I inquired. "You know, I lost my tooth at school!" She's been miffed at her younger twin brother and sister ever since they lost teeth at school last year, in kindergarten. It's been her goal to lose at least one tooth in school, as the school gives kids a cool little tooth "treasure box" necklace and the student's name gets put on the nurse's door on a tooth shaped post-it. With only a month to go till she enters the wonder years of middle school, she was growing increasingly impatient about accomplishing this "task" while a mere grade schooler! LOL!

Hope that your kiddo had fun in the play! And glad the tooth was found safely! --Karla