We’ve all got our little pre-show rituals, and we’ve all worked on shows where people do some super weird stuff before they go on. I always wonder how they settled on these quirky things and, for the most part, I’m willing to go along with the rituals for the sake of group bonding (although, seriously, I’m not playing the Bunny Bunny Bunny Bunny game again, especially at 8:30 a.m. C’mon.) So I thought I’d ask around to find out what types of things theatre-folk are doing before the curtain opens.
Progresso chicken noodle soup for dinner, a full physical warm up / stretch, Twizzlers backstage.
MUST brush my teeth before showtime.
If I’m doing a comedy or sketch show, I must have a Monster energy drink beforehand. Every single time before I make an entrance, I do a quick check to make sure my zipper is not down.
I buy “show undies” that feel like the character. Unless ones I have work. Then I put on those. (Clean! I’m not THAT bad.)
I have major stage fright usually, so I do a visualization to music that kind of makes the universe the size of a pinhead that I hold in my hand. Then, if possible, I have a cup of coffee and something sweet 30 minutes before the show. The rest is breathing and centering.
I spit on the stage. Just a little one. It started during CrazyFace at Sacred Fools when I had to fly from the catwalk in a body harness — pre-show, I always spit on the stage to see the distance from where I was hanging and release the fear of the rig failing. Stuck with me ever since.
I touch all the seats. I’ve touched the seats since I was 19. Every show.
I wear something of my mother’s, or have it with me. A ring usually.
Different for each show. For example: Friar Laurence included rubbing a rosemary bush onto my fingers; Peter in Bug involved roaming around out back of the space, paranoid of every noise, plus push-ups; sometimes it’s a song in my head offstage just before entering.
I honestly need a good slap on the bottom to feel ready to go out. No joke.
Must poo within two hours of curtain. TMI, I know.
Before every show I stand and stare into my eyes in the mirror, until I feel like I’m not looking back at myself anymore. Then I’m ready to go on.
I have an Islamic prayer that I learned years ago and love. I usually walk around stage singing it to myself. And I usually like to do my resonator workout on stage.
I walk into the dressing room and say “places.”
I can’t sit during the course of a performance, or in the half hour or so preceding, no matter how physical it is.
I wear the same pair of undies every opening night and closing night.
Also, before the house opens I run up each aisle and tap each seat individually. That’s to thank each person for coming.
I sing “Magic To Do” from Pippin.
For me? It changes every show (although I generally down a RedBull in there somewhere), but I usually have a certain kind of music or specific song that I listen to. Then I need to always do some high kicks before I go on. And at every curtain call I thank the audience with a hand clasp.
What’s yours? Share in the comments — and break legs, everyone!