Second Only To Family: Three Ways that Theatre Brings People Together
Today is my 11th wedding anniversary. Of course I am using the sweet silence of my baby being fast asleep in bed to create this website, and by extension this blog.
My husband and I are not cuddle-on-the-couch people: we are sit-across-the-couch-on-our-phones-and-calmly-discuss-the-semantics-of-racism-poverty-and-politics people. Our love is genuine and unique, honest and unwavering, intellectual to a fault and nothing at all like what you read about in storybooks. My friendships are equally unexpected; raw, intimate, messy, emotional. I was taught love by my husband; I was taught friendship by the theatre.
Interpersonal relationships come to a head in the dressing room, in the wings, and in the lobby when you pause for an extra three seconds so the clicking of your heels doesn't interrupt a silent scene. "Respect" has a new meaning when you are spending an hour in a sweaty dressing room with twenty other girls in dancewear.
Read on for three out of the multitude of ways that theatre tightens the bonds between us.
1. Bad Behavior Had Immediate Consequences
We hear over and over again in the modern workplace that poor performance, bad interpersonal skills and repeated indescretions will keep people from rising through the ranks, but we rarely see that being played out in real time. However, in a project-based interpersonal industry like live theatre, the world is small and nobody is above being called onto the carpet. I would take a sub-par performer over an actor who can't take a note without scoffing any day of the week.
2. Standards of Intimacy are Different and Deeper
If you haven't run off-stage frantically begging someone to unzip your dress and check the mic pack hanging from the back of your pantyhose, you probably haven't done much theatre. There is rarely a patch of hair or cup of bra that goes unseen by the actors around you as quick change after quick change gets performed. On the same hand, long stressful nights and emotional monologues can inspire some tear-filled confessions that we often haven't told our closest friends. It's hard not to know, feel for, and love someone you've seen weeping and practically naked.
3. Respect Means Making Other People Shine
Grace and class in theatre is all about deferring the final bow and making sure your fellow castmates have the perfect spotlight on their brilliance. Staying quiet, making eye contact, and respecting personal space onstage and off is key; nothing ruins an actor's concetration like talking backstage, or glancing off to see a fellow actor playing Angry Birds on a lit up smartphone while they themselves are trying to deliver a heartfelt speech. Cast behavior as a whole can make or break an entire performance for the audience as well as the experience for the actors, and the actors who give respect, get respect.
On this one-year anniversary of my ten-year anniversary (yes, you read that right!) I am not only thankful for my sweet husband and our weird marriage, but my sweet theatre loves, second only to my family, and our weird friendships. Here's to many more years of sweaty dressing rooms, bathing with baby wipes, tear-filled confessions and leaving it all on the stage.