USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Stage’
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Ghost in the Gym

The following is a ghost story from a friend of mine.  I am represented by the letters KP and he is represented by the letters KM.

Piece:

KP: Okay, go ahead and tell me about the time you saw a ghost.

KM: So, I was in first grade… I was wasted. No, I’m just kidding.  I was in first grade, and it was like that after school thing where none of the parents wanted to pick us up, so we’d all just chill. And, there was like a- I was hanging out with a fifth grader I thought was so cool- I was like Oh my God, y’know, and he was like “Oh my God, like let’s go into the gym when there’s no one in there, and it’s like the lights are off.” And I was like, “yeahhh, like let’s go into the gym.”  And so, we went in there, and the lights are off, and we’re just like fucking around, and I was like, “ooh, like I feel so like … rebellious… mehhhh.” And… so, I got up on the stage ’cause our gym also had a stage- it was like a multi-purpose room- and… I was like.. “ohhhh! I wanna get up on stage where the principal stands,” like I’m making fun of- and then I look inwards at the stage and it’s like pitch black, and there’s like- ’cause there’s no light.  And- when I looked in, I saw… the like-like this image of… a woman… and she was like- crying. I could hear her too, like… crying.  She had her arms outstretched and she was just slowly walking towards me, with her arms like this… and I saw it, and I stood there for about 5 seconds ’cause I was just like frozen and then I said – “okay, we’re getting out of here,” booked off the stage as I was running across the room, I remember looking back and still seeing her. And then, when I got to the door, I looked back one final time and she was gone, and I pushed outside, and there was daylight, and I was like – couldn’t breathe- and I was like “Oh my God.” And everyone came outside and was like, “what’s wrong?” and I was like “y’all,” like, “I don’t know what the hell I just saw, but huhdehmeh,” and they were like, “whaat?” and I just was like- it was- and I couldn’t sleep for like two weeks… so… yeah.

KP: Have you had any similar experiences since then?

KM: No, not with ghosts

Context:

The informant is a 20-year-old sophomore at USC.  We were sitting in a room of friends and we were all hanging out and relaxing.  He had told me about this ghost story before, so I asked if I could record it for this project and he agreed.  Again, we were with friends, so everyone felt a little creeped out by the end, but we were all fine.

My Thoughts:

I think it was super interesting to collect this data from a friend.  As we talked about in class, hearing ghost stories from your friends makes the stories a lot more believable and realistic. Because the informant is my friend, I do believe this story.  The woman he mentioned did kind of have a lot of similarities to La Llorona, and when I asked him about that, the informant did mention that it felt somewhat familiar.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Folk speech
Protection

Break a Leg

Content:
Informant – “Break a leg is when you wish to wish an actor good luck in a theater. You can’t say good luck, you instead say break a leg.”

Context:
JK – “When did you first hear it?”

Informant – “I heard it many years ago when I was performing and around stage people. They just told me that’s what you do.”

JK – “Why do you think this practice exists?”

Informant – “I was told that the gods of the theater, if you told someone good luck, the mischievous gods would intercede and that person would screw up. But if you didn’t say that, if you told them the opposite, the gods wouldn’t have anything to respond to and they wouldn’t notice that person. It could also be that the applause would be so great that you would have to take a bow. And the traditional bow, in the Victorian bow, you would have one leg in front of the other and to bow you would break your leg. Well not literally, but it would be like bending your knee in a weird way.”

Analysis:
There is also a humor to the wish. Before it became a cliche, telling someone to break a leg may have been a way to get them to laugh and relax before going on stage.

Customs
Folk Beliefs
Magic

Never Say Macbeth

Content:
Informant – “You know the story of Macbeth. There are a lot of witches in that play. Legend has it that the curses that they say are real. If you say the name of the Scottish Play in a theater needlessly, that theater is cursed. The name summons the witches and curses. To reverse it, you have to run around three times in a circle and spit, or say your favorite curse word. You also get shunned by your cast, which is not fun.”

Context:
Informant – “I heard it from my freshman theater teacher. He was crazy. I said Macbeth in class once and he yelled at me ‘YOU NEVER SAY THE SCOTTISH PLAY’S NAME.’ He almost threw a chair at me.”

Analysis:
I can’t think of any practical application for this superstition, so I believe it exists to create a more complex theater subculture. If you know about it then you are more of an theater person than those who don’t.

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