Theatre Talk | Whistle while you work?
Fun Fact: Did you know that it is bad luck to whistle backstage?
The theatre is full of sayings and shenanigans, but this one has an origin very much rooted in truth. In the early days of theatre most of the backstage crew was comprised of off duty sailors.
Now, if you have ever been backstage before you know that they look very similar to a large boat. The sailors preexisting ability to use ropes and rigging equipment made for an almost seamless transition from ship to stage. Back then, sailors used a series of whistles to give work commands on the ship and that practice carried over to the theatre world. There were times when actors would be whistling show tunes backstage (some of those songs are real earworms, you know?) and would inadvertently cause a prop, light bar, backdrop, ext to fly in and knock an unsuspecting actor down like a bowling pin.
Now that you are privy to this theatre legend, feel free to file this tidbit into your mental vault for trivia nights, drinks with friends, blind date ice breakers, or sprinkle it into any other suitable conversations.