Thursday, September 02, 2004

break a leg, bust a nut and crack a rib

Supposedly, "break a leg", that odd little way to say good-luck to an actor before a show, came into the English language during Shakespearean times. After a curtain call, if a company of actors continued to get applause they would run back on stage for a second bow but this time with one knee touching the stage. "Break a leg" expressed the hope that a performance would move the audience to thunderous applause. Maybe.

I think somebody probably broke a leg during a performance . Shakespeare's audiences were a drunk, illiterate lot that wanted to see some action. (or at least the portion of the audience that paid a penny to stand in front of the stage) "This is bloody boring, let's go watch some dogs bite the balls off of a bear." Other forms of entertainment in Jolly Olde England were nasty, brutish and not to taxing on the attention span, so I'm sure some actors must have injured themselves during a particularly overzealous bit of stage fighting. Some Tibold or Macbeth probably broke a leg and then afterwards nobody let him forget it: "Break a leg !! hahah" But in the world of men - and of course at that time all actors were men - there was probably an embracing of such lunacy: "Break a leg ? Yeah I'll go out there and give it all I've got." Giv'r.

Or at least I seem to hurt myself a lot on stage. A couple of years ago, my epididimus uncoiled while playing the part of Puck in Midsummernight's Dream. (I'll let you look that up if you don't know what it means already) And once again: I just had x-rays done and there seems to be some kind of tiny crack. My fall last Saturday night on the Carousel stage was way more than I bargained for. I'll find out from my doctor tomorrow what this means but of course- to use that wonderfully worn cliche - the show must go on.

I'm hoping this news gets around and finds it's way to Leanne Campbell who suggests in "A critic's eye view of the Fringe" that I'm going to simply unburden myself on stage. I suppose I should have included in that write-up that I'm playing 22 different characters, using five different languages, jumping up and down and cracking a rib up there. If she sees my show I'll promise to work on my pitches. There is a lot of heavy emotional content in my play but that's filtered through comedy, characters and a story.

crack a rib up there !!

So here's a very fictionalized version of what happened.



CLASS SLIPPER

"When I feel stress I try to slip as much as possible," Mayumi explains.

"You mean, you try to sleep as much as possible," Tom corrects. "I'm sure you don't try to slip." As if on cue he fake falls to the floor.

The students burst out into laughter like match-heads bursting into flames: bright, vivid and crackling.

"Could somebody help me, I think I hurt myself," Tom says from the floor.

This elicites even more laughter from the class.

"No really I think I cracked a rib," he says slowly, sucking his lips in to relieve the very real pain.

"I cracked my rib !!" one student laughs.

Tom is famed for his pratt-falls but on this day it's really done him in and he wonders how long it'll take before someone realizes he's serious.

Little Mayumi Hitondo slaps her knee just like a North American. She's trying this out for the first time. She laughs, loving the zanniness of Canadian teachers.

1 Comments:

Blogger robb said...

Hi Kevin,
This is somewhat random, but as you touched on the origins of another theatre idiom, perhaps you can answer this:

Why is will-call called will-call? This questions has been plaguing my soul for years.

Oh, and uh.. break a leg eh?

Robb

September 3, 2004 at 12:43 PM  

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