NYCPlaywrights February 24, 2024

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Feb 24, 2024, 5:08:34 PMFeb 24
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Urban Stages Dynamic Duos Series
Our Dynamic Duos series that spotlights the magic that unfolds when two actors grace the stage.

Adam’s wife has died suddenly, and Adam has come to explain how and why, as much to himself as to his brother, Brian...

February 29, 7PM
Corina is an immigrant from Guatemala who has smuggled her way across the border guided by Efren, her coyote aka human smuggler. Instead of finding freedom, she finds herself imprisoned by Efren...

March 4, 7PM
A tax audit reveals a lot more than flawed accounting when the auditor is a returning female vet and her subject a frequently high and highly disorganized aging hippie songwriter.

Urban Stages
259 West 30th Street New York, NY 10001


There are spaces available for NYCPlaywrights Zoomers for our March sessions.
Check out our website at
For more information or to sign up, email


Theatre Southwest of Houston, Texas is now accepting entries from now until April 20, 2024 for the 27th Annual Theatre Southwest Festival of Originals! The TSW-FOO is FREE to enter with the Production to be mounted July 26th thru August 10th, 2024. Once again we are calling for short one act (20 minute) plays in any and all genres from all over the country and the world.


Over a 5-year period, The Democracy Cycle – a collaboration between the Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) and Galvan Initiatives – will commission and develop 25 new performing arts works across the fields of theater, dance, music, opera, and multi-disciplinary performance that express themes related to the nature and practice of democracy, particularly as it is practiced in the United States.


Theatre Three's 26th Annual Festival of One-Act Plays
Since its inception in 1998, The Festival has received over 12,000 submissions from across the world and produced over 140 world premieres by more than 100 different playwrights. The Festival presents between five and eight plays each season.

*** FOR MORE INFORMATION about these and other opportunities see the web site at ***


Paragon Orthopedic Center isn’t a comedic hotbed, but in our bone-oriented clinic, we hear our fair share of references to the idiom, “break a leg”.  The patient who broke their leg during a performance, “I literally broke my leg!”  As Dr. Bents is turning to go into surgery, he might hear, “Hey Doc, don’t break a leg!”  The patient who recovered from a broken leg being told as they leave, “Don’t break another leg!”  Nobody is truly wishing a person to have a broken leg, and saying it seems to always elicit a smile.  Typically meaning “good luck,’ the origins of this go back to the theatre.  Superstition says not to wish an actor good luck because that’s bad luck, so instead “break a leg” came about.



If you are not a native English speaker and someone told you to break your leg, you might be offended, or at least somewhat confused. This saying serves as an expression of good luck wishes to an actor or actress before they go on stage for a performance. Of course, the intended message is opposite what the words imply: we do not actually wish for an actress to break her leg during a show. Instead, we hope that the show will run smoothly, without injury or mishap, and that the actress will give a great performance.

The rumor is that this phrase initially arose out of a superstition that saying good luck to a performer would in turn bring bad luck. To avoid such an outcome, people began to use this phrase to make the contrary true: by wishing bad luck, the actor would receive good luck.



Actors are a superstitious lot. (So, apparently, are jockeys, professional athletes, prostitutes and sailors). Theatres abound with traditions to ward off the evil humours, such as never uttering the final line of a play during dress rehearsal nor mentioning the name of that Scottish Play lest it bring disaster. Perhaps the best known is the strange custom of wishing a performer to break a leg.

The origins of this perverse expression, which wishes one good luck by wishing them bad luck instead, remain obscure. Although it can be said at any time, traditionally it is usually reserved for a play’s opening night.



“Break a leg,” is, of course, what actors wish each other instead of “good luck” before a performance. The expression has been common among the thespian crowd since the early 1900s.

There are a number of theories about the origin. The most colorful is that the phrase refers to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln by actor John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater, when Booth jumped from Lincoln’s box to the stage, breaking his leg. However, the phrase was first recorded in print in the early 1900s, and is unlikely to refer to an incident half a century earlier.

Eric Partridge, in his Dictionary of Catchphrases, suggests that “break a leg” originated as a translation of a similar expression used by German actors: Hals- und Beinbruch (literally, “a broken neck and a broken leg.”) The German phrase traces back to early aviators, possibly during World War I, spreading gradually to the German stage and then to British and American theaters.



There’s no consensus on why actors started telling each other to “break a leg” before a show. Some say it’s a reference to the black curtains on either side of the stage, called legs.

Breaking out from behind those legs means to step out into the spotlight.

"It's the whole Vaudevillian thing; 'cause you were lucky you got paid," says Playhouse on the Square producer Mike Detroit, who previously taught theater classes. He says the superstition evolved as a way to say "good luck" without saying "good luck."

"It's bad luck to actually break your bone on stage," he assures us. "So don't do that, right? So, we wish you the opposite."

But as performers will tell you, saying "break a leg" also tempts fate.

Enter award-winning local performer Kim Justis, playing the role of Gay Wellington, a drunk actress in the show “You Can’t Take It With You,” running through this weekend at Theatre Memphis.

At a recent performance, she was onstage doing a comedy bit. It involves rising off of a couch with a blanket over her head like a ghost. She noticed that the blanket may have been wedged a little between the couch and the wall. She suspected it could give her some resistance. Like any good performer, she improvised.

"I know!" she told herself. "I'll just stand up on the couch and that way I can kind of pull the blanket with me as I stand."

And It worked. For a second.

"I stood up, I said “OOOOO" [ala a ghost]", she says. "It was so funny! Got some good laughs. Hooray! And instead of being a smart actor. No, I got that laugh and became a real drunk person."

When she stepped down off the couch, the audible snap in her foot was followed by an audible gasp from the audience.

"I heard that and went: Well, I can't let people think I'm really hurt," Justis says. "That's terrible! That ruins the show. So I threw the blanket off of my head and said, 'I'm okay!'"



The dance world is brimming with superstitions. One of the most common is never to say “good luck” before a show, since everyone knows uttering the phrase is, in fact, very bad luck. Actors say “break a leg” instead. But since that phrase isn’t exactly dance-friendly, you and your dance friends probably tell each other “merde” before taking the stage.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “merde” is a French exclamation that loosely translates to, er, “poop.” So how did dancers end up saying “merde” to each other instead of “good luck”?

To learn more, we spoke to Raymond Lukens, associate emeritus of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum, and Kelli Rhodes-Stevens, professor of dance at Oklahoma City University. Read on—and the next time you exchange “merdes” with your castmates before a show, you’ll know why.




Time for some more trade lingo. We've asked you to send us phrases or bits of slang from your world - insider terms of the trade that would stump people on the outside. And today we have this phrase.

MICHELLE HACKMAN: Toi, toi, toi.

BLOCK: Toi, toi, toi - spelled T O I. That was sent to us by listener Michelle Hackman of Cary, Illinois. She's a professional opera singer and she told us she heard toi, toi, toi for the first time when she was in college. She was backstage before a performance.

HACKMAN: A voice teacher said it to one of the performers. And I said what is that? I've never heard that before in my life. It basically means break a leg. That's the term we use instead of break a leg or instead of good luck.

BLOCK: And when you heard it and you asked about it, what did they tell you?

HACKMAN: They said it was just the way to say good luck. And there was also a spitting motion. I'll pretend to spit over the shoulder. It's to ward off evil spells or bad luck. It's also - comes from the German term for devil, which is Teufel. And so they say it could be a shortened version of that. So speaking the devil's name to ward him off.

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