When Your Friends Don't Show Up

Chris Peterson

  • OnStage Editor-in-Chief

A couple years ago, I was directing a production that I felt was the high point of my theatrical career. Artistically, it was the boldest and most creative effort I've ever put into a show. My cast was amazing. I was extremely excited to have my friends, come see this work. I had sent them Facebook invites to the event and some of them replied Yes, Maybe, and some didn't reply at all. But I was confident in my conversations with them, that they would be there to support me.

First weekend? None of them show up. Okay, not a problem.

Second weekend? None of them again. 

Final Weekend? Not a single one....

In the days following the last performance, I didn't initiate any contact with them. Some of them asked me how it went and I replied with one word answers.


After a week of this, a couple of them got the hint and addressed it with me. I got answers from two different people who changed my whole perspective on how to handle it when your friends don't show up to see you perform.

Friend A. : Whose previous production I had seen on opening night. Who wanted a thorough critique from me. Who implied that they would come to my show. They told me the following:

"Yeah, I would have come but that's a really long drive for me and I don't want to drive home that late at night."

I normally wouldn't have had a problem with this is except for 2 things. 1. They could have come to the Sunday matinee if they were that uncomfortable driving at night. 2. They attended a performance at a theater five miles from where my show was performing, the following Friday night.

Friend B.: Again, someone whose productions I had seen in the past and implied that they were coming to see my show. They told me the following:

"I'm really sorry I couldn't make it. With my work schedule as it is, the weekends are the only time I really get to spend with the family. Plus spending that much money on a ticket was going to be a bit difficult this month."

Needless to say I felt like a jerk with Friend B.

There were a couple of lessons to take away from these conversations. 1. If you're going to make an excuse to not see a show, be honest and consistent. 2. Don't assume as to why someone didn't come see your show.

Going to see theatre is not a right, it's a privilege and in many cases, a luxury. Don't assume that paying for a ticket is easy for everyone. As a new father myself, I'll be the first to admit that paying to see theatre cuts into our household budget a bit more than it used to. $20-$40 is not pocket change for everyone.

Watching is a performance is not only an investment of money but an investment of time as well. Most shows run at around 2 1/2 hours long. If you go see 10 productions over the course of the year, you've spent an entire 24 hour day, at the theatre. Who am I to get angry if a friend would rather spend time with their loved ones, especially if that time is limited, rather than sit through my performance simply to support my own vanity?

The point is folks, that if your friends don't come to see a performance of yours, there is a reason for it. But it is incredibly important to address it with your friends, don't assume the reasoning.

If your friends don't show up to see your production, there was a reason why. Your real friends will be honest with you and if you're a real friend to them, you'll understand.