The Show Must Go On: 9 Feelings Only Theatre People Will Understand
Theatre people are a brand of our own. We are unlike a majority of the population in so many ways. Some people call us crazy, spending excessive hours at the theatre, sometimes not even for rehearsal, memorizing dozens of paragraphs, learning to juggle, dance or cry on command.
We will truly do anything for our craft.
And since we’re such a unique group of humans, there are inevitably some feelings that only people who have done theatre will understand:
1. The panic of hearing the director say your name during notes
Granted, it could be something completely positive, but usually notes are intended to fix things and improve your performance, rather than simply to praise.
In this moment, you feel terrified you’ve done something horrible that will jeopardize the show. Plus, it’s always a tad embarrassing to get called out by the head honcho in front of the entire cast and crew.
2. The terror of running late to rehearsal
Actors don’t like to be late. If we’re late to a show, so many people are affected by it and everyone gets annoyed. And trust me, there are a lot of people involved in a production of any kind.
We usually take rehearsals very seriously, so when we’re late, we feel like we’ve let all those people down, and no one wants that.
As an actor, people assume you to be self-important, so it’s best to be on top of yourself in regard to time management. Nobody likes to work with a princess, so running late can be one of the worst feelings as an actor.
3. The annoyance of being the “eccentric” friend
When you do theatre, everyone knows that about you. Theatre people exude a type of radiance that can only be described as eccentric. We get made fun of constantly if we’re in a group of non-theatre people.
Most people don’t understand our obscure references or our unhealthy love of showtunes. We’re used to being the target of a lot of jokes, but we also have the ability to impress people when they come to see one of our shows.
A lot of people don’t want to give theatre a chance because they think they will be uninterested in it, but the truth is, there are tons of “normal people” who see shows and absolutely fall in love with them.
4. The exhaustion of a rehearsal process
And I’m not talking about just during tech week; rehearsal schedules can be brutal depending on your director. Some directors hold rehearsals seven days a week, which completely eats away all of your free time.
If you’re a true thespian, you won’t mind spending your entire days at the theatre rehearsing, but your friends, family and significant other might learn to resent it a little bit.
When you do theatre, the sentence, “ I can’t, I have rehearsal,” really rings true.
5. The glory and pain of tech week
Tech week automatically comes with a negative connotation; so many of us refer to it as “hell week,” but in reality, it isn’t that bad.
Sure, you may not sleep for five days straight, but the time you get to spend with your cast and crew is priceless.
Plus, a show can reach its full potential when you have a really good tech week. There is no better feeling than presenting a show to an audience on opening night that is polished and ready to go in all aspects.
6. The love you feel for the people you work with
Unlike many other professions, acting requires people to work really closely with other people. This could mean kissing them, hitting them or just establishing a really intense emotional bond with someone.
But, this isn't that hard to do. Everyone automatically has something very special in common: They are a part of this production. When everyone involved is passionate about the material, it makes for some awesome chemistry both on and offstage.
7. The horror of a “showmance”
Ah, the classic “showmance.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this is when two people in a play, usually playing opposite each other, fall in love offstage.
This can either make for an amazing relationship that will last a very long time, or a horrible disaster that will have everyone in the cast feeling extremely awkward.
When two people in a show who are dating break up during the run, tensions are high and the whole production can be thrown off. Most people try to avoid “showmances” altogether, but sometimes it’s inevitable.
8. The agony of performing when you’re sick
Sometimes, shows don’t have understudies; it’s just how it goes. Directors cast you for a very specific reason and don’t want anyone else to play the part. It’s as simple as that; it’s a risk, but it happens all the time. This is flattering and scary at the same time.
When you get sick, you have to suck it up and get right back onstage. “The show must go on” is hands-down the most accurate theatrical phrase. So whether you’re losing your voice, have the stomach bug or are just plain hungover, you have to perform like nothing is wrong at all.
You have to suck up every bit of pain you’re feeling, and put on a show for an anticipating audience who paid a lot of money to come see the performance.
9. The overwhelming joy of receiving a standing ovation
This is truly one of the most unbelievable feelings you can experience being involved in theatre.
After months of rehearsing long hours, losing sleep, missing time with your friends and family and being so emotionally invested in your work, having an audience stand up at the end of the show truly makes it all worth it.
A positive audience reaction is what all actors strive for. For an audience to connect to a piece of work just as the actors have, and in such a positive way, is the reason we do what we do.