whistling

Definition

Theater

  • One of the best-known theatrical superstitions holds that it is extremelybad luck to whistle anywhere in a theater, but especially so in the wings. Theprohibition is thought to date back to the late 17th century, when stage crewswere recruited largely from ex-sailors because of the rope-handling skillsrequired in a hand-worked house. As at sea, these men would signalto each other largely by a system of whistles. Actors and others were thereforebanned from whistling because of the risk that a false signal could disrupta performance or, worse, produce a dangerous accident.

    The theatrical taboo against clapping in the wings may have a similarorigin, as some stage crews are thought to have used handclaps in the sameway.

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