Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

Wing It

Posted by Elyse Bruce on June 30, 2010

This expression comes from the theatre in reference to an actor studying his part in the wings (the areas to either side of the stage).  Such an actor may find himself or herself suddenly called on the stage to replace another actor slated to be on stage or currently on stage who cannot complete his or her role. 

The term was eventually extended to other kinds of improvisation based on unpreparedness including prompters who fed lines to entertainers on stage who had either forgotten their lines or who did not know them well enough in the first place but who found themselves on stage anyway. 

In Philip Godfrey’s 1933 book “Back-stage: A Survey of the Contemporary English Theatre From Behind the Scenes” the author wrote:

He must give a performance by ‘winging it‘ – that is, by refreshing his memory for each scene in the wings before he goes on to play it.”

By the mid-1900s, the phrase meant any performance — prepared or not — where improvisation takes the lead and all else (and everyone else) follows in the hopes that they will get to the anticipated destination or goal.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: