Don’t whistle backstage and never, ever mention the “Scottish” play—in the theatre, both are invitations to disaster. Most actors agree they’re as bad as athletes when it comes to adopting superstitious rituals to ward off bad karma. With the new theatre season upon us, thespians across the city are prepping the opening-night ceremonies they believe avert catastrophe.

Shole Milos,

The Lifeline Theatre ensemble member opts to tear up his production notes on opening night with “some odd notion of releasing them into the universe.” Now appearing in Half Magic.


James Vincent Meredith,

On opening night, Meredith leaves the theatre altogether and, weather permitting, takes a walk to clear his head. Watch for him going through his paces outside Steppenwolf. Now appearing in The Crucible.

Jackie Taylor,
artistic director

Taylor prefers a “holistic” approach to unwelcome frissons: spraying the theatre with a flower essence appropriately called Calming. Current production: Sounds So Good Makes You Wanna Holler.

Anish Jethmalani,

Jethmalani arrives early and runs through every line to drill the words into his brain—-a method akin to memorizing the multiplication tables. Now appearing in Merchant on Venice [yes, that’s the title].

Molly Brennan, director

One of Brennan’s rituals involves The Trophy, “a nondescript gold guy found in a dumpster” embossed with the letters “SMC.” The cast member who receives it must make up phrases for SMC—like Strapping Man Comehither. Now directing The Magnificents.

Anthony Courser, actor

To open himself up to whatever might happen onstage, Courser performs a Native American meditation and channels imaginary characters: “It lets you look at yourself from all directions and laugh at the ridiculousness of it.” Now appearing in The Fool (returns to his chair).

Larry Yando,

This veteran actor customizes bath products, meant to echo a specific character or the show’s tone, for his fellow cast members. For Cymbeline, Yando, who plays the title lead, is thinking woodsy and exotic, with a twist—-“a horrific odor for my evil stepson, Cloten.”