Theatre: Why Do It At All?
- OnStage Massachusetts Columnist
Tis the season for fall show auditions. Every time I audition for a show and deal with the pre-audition nerves, the waiting-to-hear-if-I-got-a-callback nerves, the waiting-for-the-cast-list nerves I (and others) ask “why?” Why put yourself through that agony. Why spend weeks rehearsing taking time away from family and friends, potentially missing out on other activities? Why? Here’s why.
I have the chance to stretch myself beyond that all too familiar comfort zone. IRL I am on the quieter side (until you get to know me than good luck getting a word in edgewise!) I am reserved, I am preppy. On stage I am loud, I am bold, hell- I was one of Miss Adelaide’s girls and stripped to a black, lace negligee! By performing I learn about other people and cultures from both my cast mates and from the shows themselves. When I performed in the ensemble of Fiddler on the Roof, I took the time to research Jewish customs and life in the Ukraine at the turn of the last century. In the process, others ways of being and some of that is incorporated into who I am today. I am more confident, more outspoken and more tolerant because of my times on stage and those I’ve met while performing.
We all want to feel we belong, that we fit in with others. And even if you have a wonderful network of friends and family as I do, you can still feel adrift. For me, I love the feeling of belonging that comes when I rattle off a theatre quote or hum along as someone else sings a little known song from a little known musical in their warm-ups. It’s nice to know there’s a group of people like me who know more about Tony Awards than Academy Awards and with whom I don’t have to explain why I answered the questions of “What time is it?” with “Showtime!” (Although thank GOD for my friends and family who simply smile and listen to me explain why I just said/sang what I did.)
Theatre gave me a group of people to connect with who live locally. Now I know I’ve said it’s tough to make that transition from theatre friend to real-life friend but I’ve managed to do that with some. Even if you don’t make it doesn’t mean you still can’t support your theatre friends in their other theatrical endeavors. If I wanted to, I could see a show starring a friend probably once a month. So get out there, show your theatre friends some love and as a bonus learn about new companies and performing opportunities!
We all create things. We create projects at work, we create dinners to eat but there’s something wholly unique about collaborating with others and creating a piece of theatre. You’re forced to explore yourself through the lens of whatever show you’re in, in whatever way the director wants and bring your experiences to mesh with those of your cast mates. It’s a wonderful thing to watch and a beautiful process to be involved with and completely worth all the hours you devote to it.
Do it for you
The time commitment is no joke. It means other people, activities, etc. take a backseat in your life for 8ish weeks. But what happens during those 8 weeks is magical. You grow as a person, you bond with your cast mates, you create memories and you’re involved in something bigger than you. You might even inspire others to take a chance in their own life. The most important thing is to do it for you. Do that show because you can’t imagine your life without it for the next couple of months. Take the risk because almost every time the rewards far outweigh all the nerves.
Photo courtesy of the State Theatre.