Very Superstitious!

Upon the release of the last Rae Hatting novel, Blackout, I thought I would write a post about some of the commonly held superstitions by theatre folk. I’ve been involved in the theatre since I was 10, and there are many common (and obscure) things practiced by us actors, mostly to keep terrible things from happening during the course of rehearsals and shows. So, please take your seats. The performance is about to begin!


thomas_keene_in_macbeth_1884_wikipedia_cropThe Dreaded Scottish Play

The superstition goes that saying the word “Macbeth” onstage or off could result in disastrous events. If you say this word, there are a number of rituals you can do to be “allowed” back in and “forgiven.” The main one is: The person is required to leave the theater building, spit, curse and spin around three times, before begging to be allowed back inside.

Why? Some believe it’s because of the witchcraft element. Others, because of the high risk of injury to the actors and the running trend of people dying during the course of the show. Some believe Shakespeare himself put a curse on the play. Another involves how some theatres used the play as a last ditch effort to get them out of debt. Unfortunately, the theatres often went broke anyway.


Whistling

The superstition goes that someone whistling backstage meant someone would be fired from the show, and not always the person whistling.

Why? In the days before technology, stage managers would use whistling to cue actors. If someone else whistled, it could cause an actor to miss a cue or go on too early. Not good!


It’s bad luck to say good luck on opening night!

So says the famous song from The Producers, but why do actors insist you say “break a leg”? There are a number of theories. One involves understudies. The “legs” of the stage are the curtains hanging at either side. “Breaking a leg” meant you went onstage and got paid. Another comes from Elizabethan England, where money was thrown at the actors and you could “break the leg” to get the coins, i.e. leave the stage. Whatever superstition you believe, any actor would rather hear “break a leg” than say “good luck”!


ghost-1175137_960_720It’s a ghost!

Some theatres are known to be haunted. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I know ours is! There is a superstition which states there should be one night during the run of a performance where the ghosts are allowed free reign of the stage.

According to one article: “…there is one specific ghost, Thespis, who has a reputation for causing unexplained mischief. Thespis, of Athens (6th BC) was the first person to speak lines as an individual actor on stage, thus the term “Thespian” to refer to a theatrical performer was born. To keep the ghosts of the theater subdued, there should be at least one night a week where the theater is empty, this night is traditionally a Monday night, conveniently giving actors a day off after weekend performances.”

Is it true? Well, from personal experience, when our theatre added in a Sunday show, usually the day we had off, the performances were poorly attended. Lack of interest, or our ghost having a bit a revenge for taking away her night? You decide.


Blue moon!

One of the more interesting superstitions I learned about was how wearing blue onstage was a sure way to a failed play, unless countered with silver. This is because blue dye, in the early days of theatre, was expensive to make. Failing companies would dress their actors in blue to give the illusion of success. Using silver as well counteracted the blue, as it showed the theatre had money behind them from a wealthy patron.


blackout-ebook-cover-with-awardI hope you enjoyed my little foray into theatre superstitions, and be sure to grab a copy of Blackout in paperback or ebook from Amazon!

Kind thanks to the following articles:
Top Ten Theatre Superstitions

13 Theatre Supersitions

Special Blackout Excerpt!

Preview_Full_01

Luke

 

New York whirled around us, people bustling to get to where they were going. JFK had been packed, but we managed to hail a cab and get ourselves to the loft in Manhattan, where we would be staying. It was easy to get to Theatre Row, our undercover location, from the high-rise building. Our backstory was simple. Rae and I were from a company out in California, and we were looking to move to New York. We wanted to try out a couple locations before deciding to make a permanent decision.

Rae insisted we maintain that we were friends, so as to avoid complications. Hell, our friendship was complicated already after New Orleans, but whatever made her feel comfortable. I flung down my bag on the queen bed in the sparsely furnished room. The Bureau made sure we had the necessities, so that was nice.

“There’s a tech meeting at the theatre tonight.” Rae leaned on the doorframe with a sigh. “Certainly not the Ritz, huh?”

I chuckled. “Nope, but it works. You okay?”

She raised and lowered a shoulder. “Usual zone. Feeling more uneasy about this one than I was when Madame Evangeline was telling my future.”

I had to admit, I missed Sabine’s grandmother. I missed New Orleans. I missed…well, I missed holding and kissing Rae. “Heh.”

“Should we get something to eat first? I’m sure there’s a pizza place.”

I loved how Rae knew when to break obvious building tension. “Order in?”

She smiled and walked to the olive green kitchen. “Geez, you’d think they’d make some decorating changes since the 70s.” She thumbed through a stack of takeout brochures by the fridge, settling on one and placing an order for a large pepperoni pizza and a bottle of Coke. I hated this on duty crap. Pizza and Coke just wasn’t the same.

I slumped into the sofa, sinking into the middle. Clearly they were trying to keep us in the façade that we were struggling theatre people. “Damn,” I groaned, adjusting my position. “Hey, Rae, wanna experience true torture?”

Rae laughed, crossing her arms and watching me shift uncomfortably. “Nope, I’m good.”

“Aww, come on. Cuddle up with me on the couch of death.” I patted the empty spot.

She huffed and walked over, sitting down with a small scream. “What is this? I think a spring just poked me. Undercover, or not, we’re replacing this monstrosity tomorrow.”

“And that’s why I love you, Rae.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I coughed, realizing what could be implied. “I mean, in the platonic sense. Hey, let’s see what’s on TV.” I grabbed the remote from the side table drawer and turned on the old set, my heart longing for my flat screen at home. I found an old Friends episode, and we lapsed into uncomfortable silence. Shit, I thought. You sure put your foot in it this time, Thompson. But, I did love her. Maybe this time around she’d finally let me in.


Blackout Teaser 1


Cover

Saturday Night Treat: Misfortune CH 1

ebook cover

Tease? I think not!
Preorder here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014AI54JE
Available on all Amazon Marketplaces!


Chapter 1

Rae

“No way. I don’t believe in any of that stuff.” Luke shook his head as we studied the crime scene photos splayed across the desk.

“I thought you were all about spirits and nature.” I teased, flipping through the reports by local law enforcement.

Luke flopped into a chair, “That’s different, Rae. That can be explained. I think most of these people are just taking advantage of the naïve.”

Our first case together, and he was already skeptical of everything. Great. “You do know if this is going to work, we have to associate with these people, right?”

“Yeah, not by choice, Rae.” He flicked a picture my way.

There certainly was a clear MO to the crimes. All the victims so far had either been positioned like tarot card images, or dumped somewhere that exemplified the meaning of the cards. I wasn’t saying I believed in fortune telling either. The latest victim was clearly positioned like The Hanged Man.

I read a portion of the report aloud. “‘The Hanged Man typically means sacrifice, or giving up on something important. Traitors in Italy were punished by being hanged in this position.’ That’s downright creepy.”

Luke had gotten up by this point, disappearing out of the conference room and heading to the kitchen. I swore under my breath, irritated that he had wandered out while I was reading him something possibly pertinent to the case. When he reappeared with two mugs of coffee, I was tempted to forgive him. Almost.

“Could you please try to focus? I really would like to remain in this division.”

He placed the cups down, and sat again. “Sorry, needed some fuel. Are we travelling for this one?”

“A little, yeah. The majority of body dumps are happening in D.C.” I breathed in the aroma of the coffee, colored perfectly with the right amount of creamer. He was learning, I supposed.

Chuckling, he spun the file away from me again. “Fitting. Loads of traitors in that part of the country.”

I tucked a strand of my auburn hair behind my ear and narrowed my eyes. His flippant attitude was starting to rub me the wrong way. “Hey, mister, we have a job to do. Uphold the Constitution, protect from all enemies, etc., etc.?

Ruffling his own blondish brown hair, Luke fixed those stormy eyes on me and sighed. “I’ll try to behave. Just let it be known I hate those charlatans.”

“Duly noted.” I swiped it out of his hands and buried my head back into the file. All was silent for a few moment until Luke broke my train of thought…again.

He was rocking back and forth in the chair. “So, when do we leave?”

I gritted my teeth. Was he really this annoying before? “Tomorrow morning. We will meet the Metropolitan Police Department as soon as we get there.”

“Right.”

Unable to really sit there any longer, I got up and wandered back to my desk, dropping the folder on the surface. Luke had settled into the division very well. He already made friends with most of the agents. I was baffled by his sudden change in attitude, but attributed it to finally letting go of Melinda.

I smiled briefly up at the agent dropping off a manila envelope with our travel information. I opened up the package, reading over the information for the man in charge of the investigation to this point. Detective Mark Samuels was a career man, no family, divorced twice, and still relatively young by department standards. It was he who pushed for FBI involvement.

“Finally, someone sensible.”

Luke appeared out of nowhere. “Who, Red?”

I scowled. “Don’t call me, ‘Red.’”

“Lighten up, Rae. Now, who is sensible?” He sat on the edge of my desk, thumbing through the papers.

I snatched them away. “Detective Samuels, the lead on the case, and our sole contact while we’re in D.C.” I put everything away and grabbed my bag. “You should go home and pack. I don’t like to be late, Thompson.”

He started to laugh. The jerk started to laugh! I was fuming as I stomped out of the office in a huff. Damn him. I didn’t like to feel so out of control! Well, I was ready to show him what Rae Hatting was capable of, with or without some cowboy cop! I slammed my fist into the elevator button, causing several agents nearby to jump and glance over. I shrunk into my jacket, slightly ashamed of my out-of-control behavior. Calm, collected, pulled together Rae Hatting. That was who I was before all this. I just had to find her again.

Unlocking the door to my house was the nicest feeling in the world. Placing my bag on the hook by the door, I shrugged out of my coat, and thumbed through the mail. “Grace? Are you home?”

“Yeah! Just finishing some homework.” My sixteen year old daughter came out of the bedroom a few moments later, tossing her blonde hair over her shoulder. I smiled, but it shrank from my face as she was followed by her current boyfriend, Seth. I knew I had to trust Grace, but having boys in the house alone still rubbed me the wrong way.

“Evening, Agent Hatting.” We had established early on my profession, and that I would take little grief from him. I should be kinder to him. He was a straight-A student, on the high school football team, and had two loving parents. I may have run a background check on him.

“Hello, Seth.” I tried my best to restore my smile. “Have you two had dinner?”

Grace looped her fingers through Seth’s. “No, we were going to see if it was okay to order pizza?”

“Sure. You know I’m going out of town tomorrow, right?” I went into the kitchen and thumbed through the menus.

Seth kissed Grace on the cheek and moved over to the TV, switching it on.

“Yes, Mom. I know I’m going to Cary’s.”

“Good, are you packed? I’m not sure how long I’ll be away, but I will let you know when I do.” I dialed the number, ordering two large pepperoni pizzas and a bottle of Coke.

Grace came over and wrapped me in a hug. “Yes, Mom.” She whispered up. “Seth asked me to the winter formal!”

I squeezed her back. “That’s great, sweetie. It’s not for a few months, so we can go dress shopping when I get back.”

Grinning like she had just won first prize in a contest, Grace went to the living room, curling up on the couch next to Seth. I sighed. Did all moms go through this? I went off to the bedroom to pack for the trip, trying to ignore the couple of hormonal teenagers in my living room.

~~~

Luke

I was left leaning on Rae’s desk, scratching my head in wonder. I got up and meandered back to my desk, pulling on my old, worn leather jacket. I missed my motorcycle, hoping I could get it shipped out soon. Frank was taking good care of her, or so he said. Shoving my hands in my pockets, I made my way to the elevator leading to the parking garage. The used blue Nissan was little substitute for my pick-up, but traversed the streets with ease. I got in, and turned on some Blake Shelton, rolling down the window and driving out, waving to the guard.

I wove through evening traffic, finally making it to the one bedroom apartment I rented. It was hard not to miss the quiet forest sounds, and I made a mental note to get a place as far away from the city as soon as I could. Steering into my numbered parking spot, I got out and climbed the stairs, unlocking the chipped door. Needing background noise, I turned on the TV immediately, finding Monday Night Football with a relieved sigh.

Tossing the remote on the leather recliner, I headed to the kitchen, my stomach growling. I had a carton of eggs and some miscellaneous vegetables. I muttered to myself, “Guess it’s omelette night.” No point in going to the store when I would be gone for a while. Pulling out a frying pan and bowl, I began to crack eggs when my phone rang. I put it on speaker.

“Hello?” I hadn’t checked the caller ID.

“Luke? It’s your mother. Since when do I not get a call from you?”

I made a mental count. Shit. It had been nearly two weeks. “Sorry, Ma. Just getting into all the procedure and that. We got our first case though.”

“And how’s that lovely Agent Hatting? She certainly is something.”

I raised my palm to my forehead, groaning as I got sticky egg white in my hair. I grabbed for a dish towel. “She’s a royal pain in the ass.”

“Language! Anyways, I wanted to see how you are. Are you going out of town?” There was a worried sound to her tone.

I grabbed a fork, whipping the eggs. “Yes, don’t worry, Ma. I’ll be fine. I promise I’ll phone to check in. How’s Frank?” I changed the subject.

“He’s fine! I went up to check on him, and bring him some fresh vegetables. I swear, that man lives on fast food!”

Nothing changes. “Yeah, that’s Frank.” I knew the divorce had hit him hard, so he was grateful to have my cabin now.

“Ginny Hatting has been up a couple of times. She’s so sweet.”

Ginny? Oh, right. Rae’s mom. “She has?”

“Mmhmm. Oh, look, I have to go. You take care, sweetheart.” Click.

I grumbled, grabbing a knife and the cutting board, sufficiently irritated now by the cryptic nature of my ma’s phone call. Finalizing the preparation for my food, the phone rang again. This time, I did check for the caller ID. It was Rae.

“What’s up, Hatting?” We were back to surnames now, based on her recent outburst.

“Just wanted to make sure you were going to be ready at 8am.”

She had forgotten to let me know what time we were leaving back at the office. Must have taken some nerve to call me now. I laughed to myself. “Thanks, Hatting. Hey, did you know your mom visits my ma?” Silence. “Rae?”

“Huh? Yeah, umm, I have to go. See you tomorrow.” Click.

I raised my eyebrows, staring at the phone. What was with these women? I shook my head in awe, finally able to get the eggs and vegetables into the pan. I hummed to myself as I cooked, glancing occasionally at the score. I scooped my monster omelette onto a plate, and took a cold beer from the fridge, sitting down in the recliner. The beer slid down beautifully, along with my hastily prepared dinner.

When I finished, I grabbed my laptop, keen to do some of my own research on this serial killer. There were a few newspaper articles about the killings with vague theories from over-eager reporters. Detective Samuels was tight-lipped, offering little or no comment on anything asked of him. Knowing Rae’s proclivity to take all the paperwork home, I had requested a back-up file before we left. I opened the attachments.

‘The Hanged Man’ was the third distinct body dump to date, but the fourth actual victim. There were a couple of suspected related murders, but nothing could be concretely linked to this killer. I scanned the images of the other victims. The first one was easily ‘The Lovers.’ Heck, I recognized it without the report, chuckling at my memories from Live and Let Die. Jane Seymour as Solitaire was a favorite of mine. Boyhood crush.

Snapping back to reality, I studied the victims’ profiles. There were two bodies, each identified as Georgetown University students, reported missing by their roommates. After investigation, Samuels noted that both were cheating on their respective partners. He interviewed several possible suspects, but none proved fruitful. Another dead-end for the dedicated detective.

I pulled up a web browser and typed in ‘The Lovers tarot,’ yielding a plethora of sites claiming to offer free and cheap readings. I waded through the crap to find the meaning of the cards. I was starting to find interpretations based on different schools of thought. I frowned, thinking finding the one specific to our killer would be a chore and a half. I glanced down, reading the computer clock. It was past eleven, and I hadn’t even packed yet. Reaching for my laptop bag, I stuffed the computer in and stalked to the bedroom.

My trusty duffle bag was waiting at the bottom of my closet. It had traveled with me from Dallas, to Mendocino County, to San Francisco, and then to Quantico. I pulled out the necessary items and stuffed them in, taking a trip to the bathroom to half-fill my toiletry bag. By the time I finished, the red numbers on my alarm clock flashed after midnight. I stripped, and fell into the sheets, setting my alarm for just before seven. I wanted to get in a run prior to leaving.

Waking up in a cold sweat was something I had gotten used to. The nightmares were especially vivid. I squinted over at the clock, noting it was just after five in the morning. Unable to settle my mind down, I went and splashed water on my face, staring at my reflection in the mirror. I turned on the shower and stepped into the spray. There was no point in going back to sleep now, as the demons would be waiting for me. Soon, I could replace the haunting visions with new ones, but in the meantime, I would cope with the old ones the best way I knew how.

Cover Reveal: Misfortune!

I’m pleased to present the cover to the next Rae Hatting Mystery novel, Misfortune! It’s due out on November 21st, 2015 and will be up for preorder! Without further ado… Misfortune_Fulljpg ebook coverDeath is on the cards… There’s a new serial killer on the loose, dumping bodies in sinister relation to tarot card meanings, preying on his victims’ vices. With roving psychics, all claiming to have knowledge of the killer, to a mysterious Cajun woman, who just so happens to be related to Dr. Sabine Lawson, will Luke and Rae solve the case before another person ends up tempting fate and succumbing to an unfortunate mishap. Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25229054-misfortune


Misfortune joins The Fairest of Them and Crushed Gardenias in the Rae Hatting Mysteries series!