July 1, 2024

Break a Leg    

Kevin Dowsett, Theatretrain's Artistic Director, delves into the intriguing origins of "Break a Leg" and shares his recent experience watching Madagascar Junior by Waltham Forest Theatretrain. His heartfelt reflections highlight the joy of seeing young performers grow, their ensemble spirit, and the bittersweet farewell to long-serving student Ben Owen as he heads to university. Break a leg to all our talented performers!

Theatre people use this expression to say good luck and there are three main explanations for this seemingly negative message. The theatre world is fairly superstitious – for instance, it’s bad luck to whistle in a theatre. In Shakespeare’s day, one of the entrances was known as the leg line so crossing would mean you got on stage. Yet another theory lies in the fact that in the time of the ancient Greeks, they didn’t clap, they stomped their feet so perhaps breaking legs would mean enormous applause. Who knows?

Every parent knows the joy that it gives you when you see their commitment and energy being so focused.  The sense of being an ensemble together was the big thing that came over here to the audience. I noticed students who last year had played leading roles but who understood that you don’t play leading roles every year but were still very much part of the crew.

It’s wonderful to see their growth year on year. The way they own their space on the stage with confidence, how they breathe and speak clearly so you can hear them. How they buy into being part of a bigger picture and make each scene flow together. You can see the pride they take in what they do.

One of the students, long-serving Ben Owen, gave his final two performances as he is off to Uni in September. He has been offered a place at Oxford but like everyone else has to await results day. His Alex the Lion captivated. As you can see he is taller than me but he played him with a mixture of showmanship, goofy humanity and hungry beast with a roar – and a heart.

I say break a leg to all our performers and the same to all our leavers who are off to the next chapter of their lives.

Theatretrain, a nationwide provider of weekend theatre schools for young people aged 4-18, specialises in weekly classes in acting, singing, and dancing. An emphasis is placed on learning valuable life skills such as confidence, empathy, courage, and resilience. If you know a child who loves to dance, act and sing or could do with a little confidence boost why not visit to find out what our performing arts classes can offer your child at one of our 80 locations across the UK.

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