Getting involved in a theatre group, whether community or professional, comes with the utter joy of meeting a whole bunch of like-minded people all with the same goal of putting on an excellent show. Those individuals that start off as your acquaintances (or competition) soon become endearing friends that you couldn’t live without, but there are so many ways that theatre groups are like family, it’s hard not to compare the two.
Family’s fight, right? Parents tell you off for doing things wrong; directors tell us off for not learning our lines. They might listen to our excuses, but at the end of the day, we didn’t do as we were told...whoopsy!
Sibling rivalry always plays its part, primarily when you compete for something; getting the best grades, being given a phone for your birthday, winning at Monopoly…it’s no different in theatre groups. You can be great friends, but when audition time comes around, everyone is competition, and we will fight for that part. We might be rooting for you to smash your audition and even help you prepare because we’re friends, but secretly we’re hoping that we do a better job. Who hasn’t wanted to get better grades at school than their brother or sister?
And if you do better than we did, sure we’ll be happy and supportive, but inside we’re grinding our teeth in frustration.
Then we’re over it, and it all goes back to normal, until next time...
They tolerate our mood swings
You never know what mood your family will be in when you see them. They could have had a brilliant day or a tough one, which will ultimately depict what version of them you are about to see. And we just deal with it, whether that’s leaving them alone for a little while or messaging to check they’re ok.
If auditions didn’t go so well, we’re there to listen and pick each other up. When you’ve just performed your first show, you celebrate together. When that damn costume doesn’t fit, and you look like a giant marshmallow, you laugh about it as one.
They let us borrow their clothes
We’re all in the same boat and ready to help with suggestions at a moments notice. I like having my sister’s opinion on what I’m wearing sometimes, especially as she potentially has something I can borrow to make it look good.
The same goes in theatre groups. Need a pair of shoes to go with that costume? I’ve got a pair you can borrow! That skirt doesn’t fit properly? I’ve got a bunch of safety pins, let me pin you in. Tights have laddered? I’ve got 15 spare! The only difference is, in theatre, we always give them back!
We do each other’s hair
Anyone else’s mum used to plait their hair after a bath so you’d look like Hermione Granger the next morning?
We find there’s always that one cast member who is an absolute PRO at doing hair. They bring in the curlers, and we form an orderly queue before they even get the chance to get themselves ready. And we love them for it!
We love each other unconditionally
You might not see your family every single day, you might have disagreements or blazing rows, you might question their choices but support them anyway, but at the end of the day, you love them no matter what.
In the same vein, the love a theatre group has for one another is unconditional. Even if someone cuts out your lines by accident, comes on too early and cuts a whole scene, whacks you on the head with a piece of set, or gets that part that you really wanted, we can’t help but love each other unconditionally.
I joined my local theatre group when I was 16 and, cheese aside, I made friends for life - and they have indeed been my life ever since. I’ve helped them prepare for auditions, celebrated when they’ve got parts and listened to their disappointment if it didn’t work out. But it didn’t stop there.
I’ve seen romances blossom, been to weddings and funerals, and welcomed babies into the world. We’ve eaten mountains of cake together and drank fountains of gin whilst laughing about anything and everything. We’ve attended parties, run assault courses, and traveled together. I’ve watched them change jobs, partners, hairstyles, and they’ve done the same for me. Theatre groups are like family, and they certainly are mine.