Now that I’ve gotten Sister Sledge stuck in your head (you’re welcome), I should probably warn you that several hundred words of good old sentimentality and nostalgia are forthcoming. Don’t you dare call me cheesy- you know you love it.
Theatre attracts lots of different people. There’s something for everyone. We each discover theatre at different points in our lives, all over the world, for a variety of reasons. But whatever the reason for that first encounter with theatre was for you, I’ll bet that the reason that you decided to make a life out of this art form is family. Call it whatever you want: company, community, cast bonding. Theatre creates family.
Theatre inherently feeds our innate need to interact and engage with other human beings. By its nature, theatre is a collaborative art. The creative process requires us to trust and support our fellow artists. It may seem simple, but theatre inherently teaches us how to work with other people towards a common goal. There are too many parts and roles involved in theatre for it to be all about just one person.
We all want a place where we can belong. That sense of belonging is even more important as a young person. When I was growing up, I looked for my place, my niche in many places: the soccer team, the Model UN club, honors classes, the high school newspaper. But it was theatre that finally gave me the community—the family—I was looking for. In high school, theatre gave me a way of connecting and collaborating with people that I wouldn’t otherwise even be in the same room as, let alone talk to or perform a play with.
As an emerging professional theatre artist, I marvel at theatre’s capacity to bring people together. So far in my career, I have been fortunate enough to find a unique and supportive family in each organization I work with. Each one has its own set of characters, quirks, and dysfunctions, but I love them anyway. And isn’t that what it means to be a family? Each of my theatre families is unique and special to me. Some people never find a family that welcomes and celebrates who they are, and here I am already with multiple sets that do just that. I have the wonderful “problem” of all my families living in different parts of the world. While I often wish that all of my favorite theatre family members lived under the same roof, I remind myself that we’re all belong to one big theatre family. We are all connected by the passion and drive to create something together.