Theatre Catch


Actors in a stage play/musical will pass around an item like a penny onstage during the show.


The informant acts in musicals and knows of this ongoing theatre tradition among teenage actors to pass around a penny secretly during shows, sometimes on the last performance, as a catch among the cast. The cast members hand off the penny to each other, very subtly, at inconspicuous moments when the audience cannot see, and whoever is left with the penny at the end of the show is the “loser”. When they pass the penny (or other small object) to each other, it is usually behind each other’s backs or during some kind of exchange, like shaking hands, in the performance so that the audience does not know. The game gives the cast members an obstacle to trying to stay in character during the show.


This catch is a subtle example of the anti-institutional nature of teenagers and children that draws them to do what they are told not to. In a stage play, the actors have been rehearsing their roles for months, and yet they play games, like the penny passing game, to see if they can get each other to break character. This shows us that, while these actors might care very much about the play that they’re in and want to do their best, they also find ways to come together to be subtly rebellious while still acting to the best of their abilities and wanting to succeed.