Why is it called a Green Room?

George Carlin

Last night we hosted a private event for Weaver Kading & Associates who were treated to a private screening of the documentary “Texas Legends – The Paramount Theatre” which was produced by METV.  

Some of the guests ended the evening with a backstage tour.  I was asked the question:  Why is it called the Green Room?   I didn’t know the answer. But I looked it up on Wikipedia and copied the article below.    All I know is our Green Room is a green room.  And that rather rude comment written on the wall is from George Carlin.  Just another piece of our history.

A  ”green room” is a room in a theater, studio, or other public venue for the accommodation of performers or speakers when not required on the Stage.
The first recorded use of the term was in 1701 but the origin of the term is unknown and is the source of many folk etymologies such as:

  • In some explanations it is said that the color was a response to limelight; early stage lighting.
  • Green is also thought to be a calming and soothing color but this is according to 20th century psychological theories so can not be the origin of the term.
  • The most widely accepted origin of the term dates back to Shakespearean theatre. Actors would prepare for their performances in a room filled with plants and shrubs. It was believed that the moisture in the topiary was beneficial to the Actors’ voices.
  • Richard Southern, in his studies of Medieval theatre in the round, states that the acting area was “The Green”. The central space, often grass-covered, was used by the actors, while the surrounding space and circular banks were occupied by the spectators. Since then “The Green” has been a traditional actor’s term for the stage. Even in proscenium arch theatres there was a tradition that a green stage cloth should be used for a tragedy. The green room is thus the room on the way to the green.
  • It has been suggested that the original ‘green room’ was in a London theatre converted from office buildings. The room behind the stage had previously been used to cut deals and was known as the ‘agreeing room,’ and the phrase has become corrupted over the years.

26 responses to “Why is it called a Green Room?

  1. WHAT rude comment from George Carlin?! Inquiring minds want to know. Don’t make me come down there right now to find out for myself.

  2. Sorry. Only those special enough to get a backstage tour will know that anwer. It’s too rude to re-print here.

  3. OK, I’ll bite. How does one qualify for one of these special backstage tours?

  4. You know… I would answer that, but I don’t want people to think this blog is just another way for Ken to ask for donations… I am always asking for donations! Let’s just say that if someone sees me at the theatre and asks for a backstage tour the only reason I would say no is if I didn’t like you…No I ‘m JUST KIDDING. Sometimes I can’t take people backstage because of time constraints, space contraints or an artist’s particular preference. We do sometimes plan special tours for donors, but we’ve also had a community open house before and I am sure we’ll have another one soon. In the meantime, I’ll snap a few picutes of some of the signatures from the Green Room and post them under “Pics” shortly.

  5. I wonder if the green room was called as such because the people that were usually in the green room were money makers. You know, big names with deep pockets.

  6. RockMyYellowSpottySocks

    This is a very interesting article 😀

  7. Couldn’t it have also been named green room because that is where you wait before you go onstage, so most people are nervous and their face might be green? Its probably not right, but that is what I think of when I hear “green room”

  8. I’m not digging the Shakespeare idea, since he died well before 1701. Around then money was called cabbage, cabbage was green. Later, Vaudevillans like to say it was the same room where the house would payout to the manager, as the show was rapping. I am inclined to think the same was true back in 1701.


  10. is it a color coding for monarchs?

  11. Thanks so much i nearly thought it refered to agriculturet and farming.Boy was i lost.

  12. the a place where actorsI can get sick before they go on stage similar to the vomitorium of old rome

  13. What Georgy Calin did say?

  14. i love this article its interesting…..

  15. my friend and i read this articlew it was really good. by the way i love it 🙂

  16. i love this article

  17. its awesome i love it.

  18. can i have this page its so cool.

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  21. Hi,

    Interesting article. There’s one thing I’d like to b*tch about:

    “Green is also thought to be a calming and soothing color but this is according to 20th century psychological theories so can not be the origin of the term.”

    Simply stating that something cannot be the case because people did not research it until a certain time doesn’t mean it isn’t plausible.

    People have always been sensetive to colors and the effect it has on the psyche (uniforms, paintings, etc). So, regardless of when psycholists started to research this, the fact that those rooms were painted in a non-researched-but-somehow-soothing-green is still possible.


  22. Somehow, somewhere, I was taught that the “Green Room” is indeed, GREEN; and serves its primary purpose of filming clips that can be quickly and satisfactorily edited; as in removing the background (Green) in which green is the best color to produce preparation of adding objects to the shoot. As in a transparency background.

  23. janardhan raj urs

    Its believed in india during 9th century the performers used to entertain the royal families in their gardens and they used to perform on temporarily created stage and the other artist used to wait for their entry under grapes yards or trees for shelter. hence the terminology of green room traces back. its also believed same theory in europe as well…
    Janardhan Raj Urs

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  25. Bridget Ilene Delaney

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