Anyone involved in theater, movies, or television knows the many unwritten rules about superstitions. Theater actors, directors, and stage hands especially are known for their superstitions, with traditions dating back hundreds of years. One of those superstitions is saying “break a leg” instead of “good luck.” There are many different histories of the origins of this term. In ancient Greece, a culture known for its excellent playwrights and live performances, the term may come from the practice of stomping one’s feet instead of applauding. “Break a leg” could be referring to hoping the audience likes your performance. In Elizabethan England, when Shakespeare wrote and performed plays, the term could refer to the bowing at the end of the performance (“to break the leg”). In the Vaudeville tradition, “break a leg” could refer to the practice of keeping the performers just off the stage. They break the leg of the curtain when they enter the playing space. It could also come from the understudies, who wish the main actor ahead of them would break their leg so they could perform. Where ever it comes from, whatever you do, never wish a performer “good luck.” Always say “break a leg.”
The retired doctor Kim Tassinari hopes to “break a leg” herself with her second career as an actor in Los Angeles. After she quit her private practice in North Hollywood, she decided she needed a new dream to pursue, so she started auditioning for small parts. Now she has a spot in multiple local television advertisements and small theater productions.