To My Theatre Friends

To My Theatre Friends

Christina Giannelli

I did not get back into theatre with the intent of expanding my social circle. It was, however, an unexpected and pleasant bonus. I love and appreciate all my friends but the people I have met via the stage are a special group to me. I joked after doing my first show as an adult that it felt as though I had found my way back to the mother ship. I had suddenly found all these people who really “got me”. We “theatre geeks” are a special breed and when we unite it is magic.

Don’t be mistaken, I love and appreciate my other friends and family and their support greatly but there are some things they just don’t get that my theatre pals do. No one can understand the emotional rollercoaster that is the audition process if they have not been through it themselves. They get all the inside jokes. They understand and commiserate when I’m dealing with rejections. They know that opening night I will be a bundle of nervous energy. They know how much it means to have someone in that audience.

The amazing thing about these friendships is also that they will be tested like others may not be. You may very well end up at some point and possibly often, depending on your community, in direct competition with your stage friends. Sadly, I have seen relationships crumble under this pressure. But, I say it is amazing because when a relationship is put through these kind of tests and trials and is able to survive it comes out the other side stronger than ever.

I recently had a similar situation with one of my dear friends. There was an audition coming up for a role she was dying to play. I knew how badly she wanted the part and I know what it is to feel that. She encouraged me to come out for the show as well and I ended up doing so. I’m always looking for more experience and to get my name out there to new directors and if I was actually cast how great would it be to work with my buddy!  It was great to see a friendly face in that hallway the night of auditions. I read for another role in the show and got really nice feedback. They asked if I could stay awhile and of course I was more than happy to. My friend read for her part and I so badly wanted to sneak into the room to cheer her on but behaved myself and stayed out.

And then it happened. They asked me to come back into that room with her and one other auditioner and take turns reading for the same role. The role I knew my friend had her heart set on. I felt horrible. This is not how this was supposed to go. I was fully prepared to be turned away or read for something else but not this. I read before her and they dismissed me, asking me before I left to please attend a callback for the role in a few days. My lovely friend turned and mouthed “good job” on my way out. She later sent me a message telling me how great I did and how proud of me she was. She too was called back for the role. I apologized to her and assured her I had not asked to read for this part. She told me I had better show up and kick ass at the call back. She told me if I got it over her it was because I just brought something to the table that she had not. She told me not to feel badly at all. These were the words she spoke to me but really what she had told me was I am your friend and we are both mature enough to handle this. If you get it I will be happy for you and vice versa. We laughed and agreed that since there were only three of us up for the part at this point we had a 66% chance of being thrilled with the casting.

I felt so relieved and the night of the callback brought her a small token of my appreciation. I handed it to her saying “good luck and thank you for not being an asshole”. What I was really saying was thank you for being a great friend, my respect and appreciation for you has grown. I will always be in your corner and I am now sure that you will be in mine. I will truly be happy for you should you get this and understand what it means to you. I know how much work has gone into this. I know how passionate you are about this. Roles and shows will come and go but our friendship will not.

To have people in your life who understand not only you but the thing you love doing most is a gift that will last long after the curtains close. So, to all my theatre friends I give you a standing ovation and say thank you. Thank you for being the wacky, crazy, passionate, supportive, creative wonderful creatures you are!!

Photo: JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST The Catawba College Theatre Arts Department and Lee Street

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