Monday, May 6, 2013

The Importance of Being Earnest (in nurturing your non-theatre friendships)

Readers of my blog may know that +Lj  and I try to escape weekly from the theatre to regroup, play, and refresh ourselves. This usually happens on a Sunday (since Paper Wing Theatre does not have Sunday shows...yet), and we often find ourselves in the company of two specific, wonderful and non theatre friends. Well, I guess to say "non theatre" is a bit misleading. They, a married couple, are a wonderful combination of HE= a funny, social worker by day and extreme L.A.R.P. (Live Action Role Playing) by night who also teaches and mans the fencing booth at the Renaissance Faire on the weekends and SHE= a blonde bombshell organizer/decorator as her real job and whose playtime is filled with performing and running the royal court/Queen's actors at the same Renaissance Faire. But, for all intents and purposes, they are patrons ONLY when it comes to Community Theatre.
Which is why we love them so much.
They provide a much needed respite from the stresses of feeling like Lj and I always have to be "on". In our business, the expectation that we must always be witty/funny/always want to talk about the deeper meaning of 'theatre' can be downright excruciating. We are only human. Yes, we run a pretty hip theatre, (are the kids still saying 'hip' these days?), but that doesn't mean we want to eat/sleep/breathe theatre all the time. We enjoy time away from the drama and repetition. And this is where these friends come in.
Which got me thinking: How many non-theatre friendships do I actually have?
Luckily...a few. I am talking about people who aren't invested in which show or which role or anything to do with any decision about the theatre I or Lj might be making. People who happily attend shows for pure enjoyment without knowing a single soul in the actual production. People who can be counted on for their honest opinions and feelings, because they aren't worried about our reaction. These are people we can have fun with and share a good meal with. All of the friends we have outside the theatre are so necessary to our sanity.
There are a million expectations on us to lead the way in fostering productive and functional relationships in sometimes dysfunctional people at our theatre. You have actors, and staff, and crew, and band, and us and somehow, we have to negotiate some rough currents to make that work. There are insecurities and egos that seem to rear ugly heads at the drop of a hat. There is a constant vying for power and status that sometimes gets so out of control I want to shout, "Are you people fucking insane?!? It's COMMUNITY Theatre, not Broadway,  for Chrissakes!!".
I have been on the end of too many tirades from angry volunteers and butt-hurt staff to count. Somehow, it's always presented as my fault and it really gets exhausting to reiterate over and over that no one is a victim in our theatre; there are only volunteers. And that is why I appreciate my outside friends so very much. I love to talk and listen about anything that has nothing to do with theatre.
This isn't to say we don't love our theatre friends and family, because we do...and I hope I don't sound ungrateful for them, because I really am; it's just a rejuvenating change to hang with the outsiders once in a while.

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