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I couldn't make heads or tails of the following expression in bold.

EXPECTING THE UNEXPECTED

What’s really going on here?

It’s simple. You, like everybody else, are weighed down by expectation.

I’m not talking about the usual kind of everyday expectations you’re aware of. It’s also not like we’re literally saying to ourselves, “I expect this” or “I expected that” in a conscious way. It’s something that’s happening just below the surface, where you’ll only see it if you take the time to look closely.

No, I’m talking about the ugly, undermining, hidden and treacherous expectations that dwell in the wings and under the stage of your Broadway blockbuster. The kind of expectations you didn’t even know you had until they came out of nowhere and blindsided you and sucked the air from your lungs.

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'Broadway' refers to plays that appear in any of the theatres in the Broadway district of New York City. These are highly prestigious theatres, so describing a play or musical as a 'Broadway' production is considered a seal of quality.

A 'blockbuster' is a book, film, or stage production that sustains widespread popularity and achieves enormous sales.

The 'wings' and 'stage' are parts of a theatre stage, the wings being the sides of the stage behind the curtain that are not visible to the audience. Actors often wait in the wings before going onto the stage. Beneath the stage, there is often a working area for actors and production crew as well. Some stages have trapdoors and actors emerge from the area beneath.

The writer of your text is referring to the emotions felt by actors in the wings and beneath the stage when they are appearing in a big broadway blockbuster.

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  • Note that it may be a metaphor for a similar level of success in some other field, if the larger context isn’t about theater in particular.
    – StephenS
    Oct 7, 2020 at 13:17

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