Inappropriate Chanting in Theatre

Informant: In theatre you normally have an opening night to get everyone to, like, get excited and pumped.

Collector: How does that work?

Informant: So normally everyone just gets in a circle and we talk about the experience. Like, what we’re excited about, and what we really wanna show these people tonight. In my old theatre group, in high school, we did this chant. It was ridiculously inappropriate! But it was great because it got everyone pumped up.

Collector: What was the chant?!

Informant:’s a little inappropriate.

Collector: It’s okay!

Informant: “Fuck that nigga shit, fuck that nigga shit.”

Collector: Oh! Why??

Informant: I don’t know how it got started, but to like build that up it was like “Energy, energy all around. You can bring a nigga up you can bring a nigga down!”  And as soon as that got built up, everyone would go, “Ah! Fuck, that nigga shit. Fuck that nigga shit.” But it was great because it was a sound-proof room, so we would do that before almost every show.

Collector’s Notes: I hear about a lot of circles in ceremonies, and I think it carries a lot of significance.  We talked about circles symbolizing cycles and the seamless movement from beginning to end back to beginning.  A show, in a way, is like a cycle, and the opening night is the beginning of the end.  This is especially true in a high school or college theatre group that puts a couple shows on every year.  They cycle through the different stages of the show.  The opening night is the liminal point where they go from practice to performance.  I’ve also heard about a lot of cases of group chanting for ceremonies.  There is a unity I think that comes from saying things in large groups of people.  Also, when something is chanted and repeated a lot, it lends itself to being learned by others.  That way, people can easily enter into the community.  This particular chant was a few choice words to say the least.  That may have had something to do with the fact they were in high school, and that sort of  language was taboo.  However, the tension and adrenaline they got from using that kind of “forbidden” language at a school function probably gave them a lot of energy to put toward performance.