curtain call

Definition

Theater

  • After the end of a play, the reappearance of the cast to takea bow in acknowledgement of the audience's applause. On opening night,the playwright and director may also appear on stage. In earlier dayscurtain speeches were also expected from stars. One actor who excelledat this was Fred Terry (see Terry family), whose speechoften included these words:
    If there is anything an actor values more than your applause,it is your silent attention to detail that enables us to give youof our best.
    In the 18th century the great actors like Garrick and Keanbegan to take curtain calls after every scene (including death scenes),an absurd practice that lasted into the 1930s. Donald Wolfitwould shake the curtain from behind to encourage applause before steppingout, while Marlene Dietrich allowed 20 minutes for her curtain calls.John Gielgud recalled how the ballerina Anna Pavlova, after takingendless bows and receiving a mass of flowers, would suddenly boundinto the wings to reappear at once in a quite different part of thestage:
    The applause would grow more and more frantic as she floatedon and off, running, tiptoeing, or leaping, surprising the enrapturedaudience with every reappearance.
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