1920s Theatre

1920s Phrases Theatre Makers Could Adopt

Every decade has some signature slang words and phrases that epitomise both the mainstream and subcultures of the time. In the theatre, creatives have their own special words to celebrate success, wish luck and just generally get a message across in the rehearsal room. 

In celebration of a hundred years since the roaring twenties, we’ve assembled 10 useful phrases from the 1920s that you could incorporate into your theatre lingo. You’re going to want to cash (kiss) us after you read through this one, so pop your cheaters (glasses) on, and let’s blouse (get going)!

  • “Make Whoopee!”
    It’s closing night and you’re about to walk on for your final bows. Tell everyone to “Make whoopee!” which in modern terms, means to have a killer time.
  • “Bank’s closed!
    There’s always that one showmance couple who can’t keep their mouths apart. If their constant making out is getting too much, you tell ‘em “Bank’s closed!” or in other words, leave each other’s tongues alone
  • “Darb”
    Production meeting? Dishing out the good champagne? Well isn’t it “Darb”! That translates to splendid or delightful.

1920s phrases


  • “Don’t take any wooden nickels!”
    This one’s a friendly reminder to the cast prankster. It’s all fun and games in rehearsals but once the show goes on, don’t do anything dumb. Or in 1920s phrasing, “Don’t take any wooden nickels!”.
  • “Ankle”
    Blocking can be draining. Spruce it up by telling the cast, “Ankle” which means to walk. See who figures out what you mean first.
  • “Go chase yourself!”
    When it’s time to wrap up rehearsals or when the cast won’t leave post-show, tell them to leave with a simple “Go chase yourself!”.
  • “Iron one’s shoelaces”
    Or perhaps you’re on the performer side of the circle. Need to skip out for the bathroom? Tell them you just need to “Iron one’s shoelaces” – it’s very believable.

    1920s Phrases
  • “Know your onions”
    Got all your lines down after the first week of rehearsal? Well, you “Know your onions”! In modern times it means you are well aware of all that is going on.
  • “Sockdollager”
    A controversial statement, but opening night is one event of great importance and back in the day, those kinds of events or actions were a “Sockdollager”.
  • “Petting pantry”
    Traditionally used to describe a cinema or movie theatre, let’s reappropriate the “Petting pantry” to describe all kinds of theatre. Hey, we may even change our name to Petting Pantry Haus… just kidding. 

Now well and truly into the roaring 2020s, let’s bring back some past traditions. Do you have any “darb” catchphrases we can add to our list? Comment below and we’ll add them!


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