Matthew Lickona noon, April 23
Why is the green room called green?
If you’re not aware, the green room is the room that performers wait in before going on stage.
However, I’m not sure how many theaters employ the green room for that purpose anymore.
The question is why green.
There are several theories going back hundreds of years.
One theory is that performers used to have to wait outside the theater on the grass before making their entrances. Grass is green, therefore, green room.
This assumes that theaters, usually an urban institution, had grass outside. Also there’s no solid evidence to support this theory.
Another theory is that this room was painted green to help soothe actor's eyes after having been onstage in the glare of the lights.
References to the green room start to show up in print from 1701 on. Gas lighting didn’t show up until over a hundred years later. Perhaps the candle light was too much?
The theory that I find most plausible is the Covent Garden green room.
Covent Garden, in London, used green liberally throughout the theater. The main curtain was green along with the usher’s jackets, and the seats were covered in green.
The room where the actors waited to go onstage was carpeted in green. I think this makes the most sense.
Covent Garden housed the Theatre Royal starting in 1732 and is currently the home of The Royal Opera.
I think the royal designation seals the deal. Over time all theaters began calling their waiting rooms green rooms.
--Or maybe not. Who knows?