Trivia Teaser

'And I was thinking to myself, "This could be Heaven or this could be Hell" ': WHICH song?

"A Whiter Shade Of Pale"
"Hotel California"
"She Loves You"
"The Tracks Of My Tears"

Lights, camera, action!

23
Nov
2011
 

By Christine Lovatt

If I say I’m ringing up the curtain on a new puzzle, it means I’m launching it, and this expression comes, as you may guess, from the world of theatre. The beginning of a performance is indicated by raising the curtain. It’s curtains for you means you’ve got the sack, referring to the curtains closing at the end of the play.

To upstage someone is to divert attention away from them and towards yourself. It comes from the practice of an actor walking to the rear of the stage, forcing the other actors to turn away from the audience and gaining all the attention himself.

Similarly, when you outshine others at doing something, you steal the show and when you use another person’s idea, without their consent, you’re stealing their thunder. This comes from an incident in 1709 when stage manager John Dennis invented a thunder machine, which was then borrowed by another company who was said to have ‘stolen his thunder’.

When an actor tries to please his public he plays to the gallery, which is where the cheap seats are. Nowadays this means to say or do things that will make you popular, instead of dealing with important matters.

To take a bow is to acknowledge praise, as an actor does at the end of a play, and to be at the centre of attention is to be in the limelight. Limelight began to be used to light the stage in 19th century theatres.

To have your name in lights means to be famous for your work in theatre or film, referring to the huge neon lights outside a theatre displaying the names of the top-billing stars.

To wield influence deviously is said to be pulling strings, a reference to a puppet master controlling a marionette.

Actors are very superstitious. You must never wish an actor good luck before a performance – instead say “Break a leg!”. You must never say the name Macbeth either, or whistle backstage – all of these things will bring bad luck.

Finally, you shouldn’t assume the outcome of an action until it has finished, or to put it another way, it’s not over till the fat lady sings.

Happy puzzling!

Christine

 

7 Responses to

Lights, camera, action!

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PEN567 said:
November 23, 2011 at 9:10 PM

I'VE OFTEN,BEEN FASCINATED,BY THESE COMMENTS,AND WE STILL WONDER,WHAT THEY ALL MEAN.PEOPLE HAVE BEEN SAYING,THESE THINGS,BEFORE MY TIME.WE OFTEN WONDER HOW THEY BEGAN.

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Xrosie said:
November 24, 2011 at 7:38 AM

Like you, the expressions have my interest. Makes me wonder who started them, and how long ago.

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November 24, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Xrosie perhaps the sayings came from Shakespeare's time or even before that when the Greeks where doing theatre outdoors? Still it is all interesting and something to ponder on.

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camenzuli said:
November 28, 2011 at 9:00 AM

where did the saying she / he is a HAM come from?

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kragzy said:
November 28, 2011 at 10:13 AM

"Am" is a contraction of amateur. In a bizarre twist, instead of dropping h's, we've added one and turned it into a real word - ham.

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November 28, 2011 at 5:33 PM

ready-steady-go

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Awsomeo said:
December 10, 2011 at 9:46 AM

awesome