During my brief but notable high school career as a drama queen – err – I mean drama student, my fellow actors would offer each other a wishful greeting of “break a leg” rather than “good luck.” Due to my overwhelming popularity as “tree #1” or “rock #4,” I didn’t put much thought into the saying. However, after some time I decided to inquire further and I found out there’s actually different theories on the origin of “break a leg.”
Some believe it was a way to dispel evil spirits before a performance. In accordance with this theory, telling someone “good luck” would bring on the “evil eye,” so “good luck” was actually very bad luck for an actor. “Break a leg” was created as a creative way to sideline evil and bring on luck.
Also, the phrase has been traced back to Elizabethan language. During Shakespeare’s time, “break a leg,” meant to bend at the knee and take a bow. Actors who performed well would “break a leg” after their performance and receive praise. I’m relieved such a phrase was meant in good spirit during those times. Somehow I imagined someone’s leg getting cut off!
Before your solo performance, what’s an acceptable “good luck” greeting in your language?