It seemed like such a good idea at the time. You see them across the read-though table and they smile at you. Before you know it, you’re exchanging numbers and texting through rehearsal. Then tech week comes and tension grows as the sleepless nights become more frequent. By opening night you’re excited again; you’re doing a show with your significant other! That’s awesome because you get to spend all your time with them without having to shell out for date night. Besides, acting out that dramatic love scene is so much easier when you have that chemistry backstage. But half way through the run something changes. That on-stage chemistry is just a little bit off. You start avoiding each other in the green room. All that PDA that everyone complained about is replaced with arguments or bitter glances. The relationship is ended but you still have a show to get through so you either become an on-again-off-again couple or you try damn hard to step on to that stage and leave all the drama behind.
This is an exaggeration, of course, but what I just described is a “show-mance”. That ever-debated relationship that tends to begin and end within the rehearsal and run of a show. It’s the crush on your fellow cast mate that fades away whenever you’re not in the same room. The sexual tension that boils up when you spend every day with the same people. It seems like such a good idea until it all falls apart.
I’m speaking to you as a cast member who has seen her friends go through all the many stages of show-mance, sometimes multiple times per show. The gushing and stumbling, the public fights, the hand holding backstage; I just have one request:
In high school, it was almost expected that when you get a bunch of teenagers in a room and allow them to explore their emotions and their bodies, someone is going to have a crush or have sex or get their heart broken. But you’re not in high school anymore. You’re an adult working with other adults who are presumably here because they want to put on a good show – just like you.
Absolutely; find someone attractive, develop a crush (do all that dramatic stuff) but maybe wait to explore a relationship. When you’re with the same people day in and day out and you’re in a position where you’re required to be emotionally vulnerable, you’re not always thinking clearly.
My first piece of advice is to wait until a show is over to pursue anything real. A lot can happen between that initial crush and strike, and there’s nothing worse than ending a relationship and then having to do a scene together. But if you are going to go after that dream date a month into the rehearsal process, please be professional. Whether it works out or it doesn’t you still have a show to do and as much as we hate to admit it, our personal lives absolutely affect our performance on a day-to-day basis. I think if you are going to go after a show-mance, be kind to each other. Don’t forget that there are two of you in a highly emotional profession. Don’t let tech week stress get to you and keep the PDA to a minimum – there are two of you in this relationship, not twenty-two.
It really comes down to keeping a clear head. Use your best judgement then take a leap of faith and pray to god you don’t screw it up.
Oh and Happy Valentine’s Day.
Photo: Shakespeare Theatre Company