No Whistling In the Theatre

My good friend, informant, was a theatre major at USC. She has been very involved with theatre throughout her life, especially attending various theatre camps in middle school and high school. Camps have a lot of lore surrounding them, so I believed she might have some theatre superstitions to contribute. I called her on the phone and asked a bit about theatre suppressions. One she had to contribute was:

Informant: “There is no whistling in the theatre because that used to be the cue to drop sand bags for the curtain, so people would get smacked on the head!”

I was a theatre major as well when I first arrived at USC and I had never heard this one before.


I think it’s so interesting how this superstition holds weight in the past. Of course, these days they don’t use sand bags to drop the curtain – we have cues to change scenery – headsets to communicate. This superstition has lasted from the way things were done in the past in the theatre. Theatre culture is rooted in past and tradition. People who really love theatre honor the superstitions, even ones like this that may seem silly since the sand bags no longer pose a dangerous threat. It speaks to how seriously traditions are upheld in this community.