Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Why is it called a green room?

Who's asking: Joseph Finder, Boston, MA

The green room, for you non-theater types, is the room where actors hang out when they're waiting to go on stage. It is not necessarily green. The term first appeared in print in 1701, but it seems to date from at least Shakespearian times.

This question is actually about a year old. Joe asked it on his travel blog, and I squirreled it away until yesterday, when someone sent in a reply.

The reason I hadn't responded to the question here is that it has no answer, only a bunch of theories. Yesterday's correspondent had the most popular theory, which is that the green room was originally painted green, to soothe actors' eyes and to provide a suitable environment for actors to apply their makeup, as limelight throws a green cast.

I have also seen suggestions that "green" is a corruption of "agreeing," in the same way that "drawing room" is short for "withdrawing room," and that the green room was literally the patch of grass where actors waited before going on stage in an outdoor theater.

At Gaslight, we don't have a separate green room; the dressing room serves that function. Its walls are yellow.

Five Random Songs

"Lookout Mountain," Drive-By Truckers. Southern-fried despair, and great driving music. Put the pedal down.

"Similar to Rain," Warren Zevon. And today's a rainy day, too. "Sometimes love is wet and cold/Similar to rain, and just as hard to hold..."

"Round the World," The Weavers. A medley that starts with the union song "Because All Men are Brothers," segues into "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," and concludes with a song you'd recognize as the tune to "Pay Me My Money Down."

"This Letter," Material Issue. Another great 1990s rock band destroyed by its lead singer's addictions (see also: Nirvana, Sublime, Soul Asylum, Gin Blossoms, Blind Melon...). This song is shamelessly sentimental, but you can't deny the soaring harmonies of its chorus.

"Trouble on the Line," Loretta Lynn. I saw Loretta Lynn live at the Grand Ole Opry in 1998, and she was magical. The woman is beautiful and ageless, a mountain angel.


Mark Dunn said...

In all of my years of live performing, around the country..I have had but one green, green room

Anonymous said...

I read that the Green rooom gets its name from Cockney rhyming slang, Greengage means Stage, therefore Greengage Room is Stage Room and like most rhyming slang it gets shortened, hence Green' Room.