I have made many a dear, life-long friend in my three-year foray into theater in the Salt Lake Valley. Yet, I can't help but feel as if I am not a stereotypical theater person and the folks I have befriended are mostly not either. Theater enriches my life immensely, but most of my theater friends and I very clearly know there is life beyond it. In fact, I've been told several times, "You do theater? You don't seem like a theater person..."
A little Google research shows me that the world personifies a theater person as someone who wears a lot of black, drinks a lot of coffee, and is self-absorbed.
In my own opinion, the stereotypical Utah theater people are different, mainly because black and coffee aren't mainstream around here:
- Many of them feel entitled to every role and cannot see that they may not be the best fit and, in some cases, may not see that they just aren't talented enough. I am fully prepared to bow out gracefully. I've seen way too many a person pull the self-righteous act because they didn't get a part that anyone with two eyes and two ears (except for the individual themselves) can see that person didn't deserve. If you look like the ingenue, no matter how much you want to play the villain, that probably isn't going to happen. Likewise, if you have the looks of a villain, tough luck on the hero roles. Belter? Not going to get a classical role (trust me, I know).
- Many theater people are constant thrill seekers, doing ridiculous things for attention and there is a fine line between "you are so fun and adorable" and pretentious. That line is something most don't get.
- They stay up way too late. I'm sorry, but I am a professional and have to be up in the mornings.
- They sing karaoke a lot. Maybe not with an actual machine, but they really do bust out into song and dance just about anywhere, find this totally normal behavior, and find it a great chance to perform for those who don't want a performance.
- They find being a "starving artist" attractive. Since when is someone with no viable career path and no money the cream of the crop? Well, apparently if he or she can sing, let the waiting line form.
- They don't have much conversation or interest outside of plays and musicals and the latest community gossip around those plays and musicals (which is like a different language to the rest of the world). Most of the things I can't even put in to words, but you all know those "things" and you just raise an eyebrow, look at your friends like "what the heck?," and shake it off as you walk away. Let's face it, in spite of their performing abilities, most theater people are pretty socially unstellar.
- Theater people thrive off of drama whether on the stage or off. Don't get me wrong, I have a dramatic personality and love to tell the best story I can, but I'm not going to make a situation more dramatic or emotional while it is actually happening. I didn't get a part? Okay, move on. I didn't get the guy? Okay, next! Why cling and dwell and make a situation worse? You've already given so much of your life to something and now it is time to move on. Each minute you spend looking into the past is a moment in your present you are missing.
One friend does not talk about theater outside of his shows, he said, "It's weird and there are much more important things to talk about...I can talk about theater when I'm doing it. I want to talk about things that matter." Ha - like how we bash ourselves?
I've never had a boyfriend in theater. Yes, I've been on dates. Yes, I've had a boyfriend do a show with me just to spend time with me. But I've never been in a committed relationship with a theater guy.
One stereotypical trap I do fall into is that sometimes I don't feel as if I am accomplishing anything or have much of a purpose if I'm not in a show. But right now? I feel rather content with life off stage. I love having time to read, watch some "Pushing Daisies," play ultimate frisbee, concentrate on my workouts, attend parties, go on dates without having to plan two weeks in advance, help friends who need me, relax by the pool, go to the grocery store without moving at the speed of lightning, plan trips, indulge my kitty's fantasies of life on the balcony, and the list goes on, you get the point. I do miss not having that extra motivation to not eat that Snickers bar, however:-)
I love to perform. I love seeing the juxtaposition of normal life versus performing life. I love having someone to geek out with about all areas of life from theater to Gym to traveling.
When you think about it, I guess we are all actors - acting appropriately for whatever the situation calls for.
Ah, who am I kidding? I'm trying too hard not to offend someone here. What I really mean is this:
Theater people are freaks. (And sometimes I'm one of them)