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Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Curse of Opening Night in the Theatre!

We all hovered around the backstage mirror last night. 

It was the opening night of our play. 

Stomachs churned, hearts palpitated and eyeliner pencils were brandished with such rapid dexterity, they were literally smoking.

“We must remember not to say the name of that Scottish play,” I quipped into the mirror as I squinted, attempting to pick a clump of mascara off my cheek without leaving a big, black, indelible smear.

My fellow thespians stopped abruptly, contouring brushes in hand, and stared at me.

“What are you talking about, Pinky?” asked Jess our ingenue, the youngest cast member.

“You know! The Shakespearean play! The Scottish one that starts with ‘M’. The one where you aren’t supposed to EVER say the name in a theatre.”

She stared at me as uninterested as … you know, whatever.

“Do you mean Midsummer Night’s Dream?” queried another actress who was checking her teeth for errant lipstick.

“No!” I exclaimed. “And DON’T say the name of it!”

“Much Ado About Nothing?” called out another.

“For God’s sake, no! It's not Much Ado About Nothing!” I shuddered like someone just walked over my future grave. 

“Don’t say the bloody name of the play! Do you want to be cursed? Do you want the theatre to fall to rubble around us? Do you want that dodgy, antediluvian lighting box to explode and for poor old Brian to die a horrible fiery death and have his eyeballs melt in a puddle?”

“Measure for Measure,” declared Alison. “That’s my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays!”

“How about the Merry Wives of Windsor?” added Emily. “I like that one.”

“Is the Merry Wives of Windsor a play about a Scottish king?” I asked, exasperated beyond belief.

“Oh, I know which one you mean,” Jodie declared, phoofing up her golden mane. “You mean the play with the witches and the 'Bubble bubble, toil and trouble' stuff.”

“Finally!” I sighed. “We can’t say the name of it… okay everyone??? Don’t ever say it out loud. EVER!!!”

They gazed at me with a look that said, who the bloody hell was ever going to randomly say it anyway, you idiot?

“Why can’t we say it?” Jess piped up after the silence.

“Because it’s cursed. It’s an old theatre tradition that you NEVER say the name of the play out loud. It's something to do with black magic and spells.”

“Cursed?” her eyes went like saucers. 

I love young people. I can teach them so much. 

"Now, I'm scared!" her voice quavered.

“Yes!” I said. “You should be damn well scared. In fact, I can tell you a real-life story!” I paused for dramatic effect. I love a captive audience. 

“One time, a few years ago," I began in a Vincent Price impersonation, "a struggling theatre group in North Queensland were performing the play, Macbeth, in a derelict old quarry and…”

I slapped my hand over my mouth in alarm.

The cast collectively turned their heads in horror, 
mascara wands held aloft, their faces stricken in dread. 

“Thanks a lot, Pinky!” shouted Jess, as she stomped out of the dressing room. “Now we’re all going to bloody die.”

We didn’t die though. And neither did the play. It went very well. 

But I do worry about Brian in the lighting box. It is a very old theatre.