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Theatre People

Things That People With a Theatrical Background Do and Say That Non-Artsy Types Don't Get

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

As a child (now adult) of all things Theatre-darling, I have come to realize that many of the characteristics and actions I have picked up through years of actors training are not always regarded as "normal" behavior. I began the "I'm a performer" thing when I was around 5-years-old when I started ballet, then at 10 I found my love for all other things "performance" at Stagecoach Performing arts school. While I formed interests in many other subjects as I grew up, the strongest pull I have ever had was to being in front of an audience (I know, show off) and I went on to study PA at college and then at University. These kinds of courses are amazing for a person's confidence, but I now know that while the confidence is being drummed in, so are many other "theatrical" traits that are not so accepted when it comes to say, an office job. 

Here are 10 things about "Theatre people" that seem weird to anyone else. 

1. We say 'No' to workplaces romances.

While there are a number of notable relationships between performance colleagues in the media (and outside of media), if you told your dorm-mate that you had just started a relationship with someone on your course, you are sure to get the "wary eye." From day 1, we were told that pursuing a romantic relationship with one of your colleagues would 9 times out of 10, cause trouble. We have all seen it, those few people who just can't help themselves and end up messing up, then the entire year group's rehearsal schedule is messed up all because "Poppy" and "Steve" can't be in the same room together. In other professions, this may not be a problem, but when you spend 16 hours a day having to "bare your soul for the sake of the show" with these people, it's better just to remain great friends. 

2. We are not afraid of physical contact.

To quote my first point, we "spent 16 hours a day baring our soul for the sake of the show." Not just our soul. When you are a group of 10 people trying to recreate The Tempest using only your bodies, you get extremely used to touching other people. This means that outside of the theatre, we tend to greet others with a tight hug, touch people's arms while we are talking to them (no we don't fancy them, maybe), and when we have a get together to watch a movie or play games, you will be faced with one large pile of theatricals as opposed to several people simply sitting in the same room. 

3. Talking in 'Musical'

We can turn pretty much any situation into a musical. Someone asks you "what's the time?"... "Well, it's gotta be close to midnight." Friend just yawned loudly? That sounded just like our cue to start singing The Circle of Life. Making plans for tomorrow? Instant Annie. Guy at the check out attempts to tell a story about last night's dream? We will shave our hair, rip our dress, pull out a tooth, and smear mascara tears down our face while singing in a tortured warble about how our lives could have been "so different from this hell we live in." Don't worry when this happens, we are not unwell; we are actually having the time of our lives. 

4. Privacy is not an issue.

This is within reason, of course, but most of us have no issue with getting changed in front of other people. This often wrongly translates as maximum body-confidence, but that is not the case. There are very few people in the world who are completely happy with the way they look, but years of techies fitting our microphone and 20-second full hair and costume changes in the wings have stopped us from caring about how other people think we look. 

5. Recreating Scenes

More often than not, we don't even need a script in front of us; we have studied that show, watched every movie remake and read the book it was based on. We now things about the show that not even the writer knows, so we can re-enact that scene in such detail that you will think you are at the theatre. Deciding who plays which part may prove difficult though, as we ALL want to play the lead. 

6. Retaining Information

We are like walking notebooks. Years of having to be off-script by week 2 means that we can retain an impressive amount of information. Useful or not, if you told us that we should remember something, chances are, we will still have it imprinted on our brain until the day we die. 

7. Being ill is either 'nothing' or 'the end of everything. No middle ground.

The term "the show must go on" is not just a song lyric sung by a legend. We have carried on dancing with broken toes, done "trust falls" with broken arms, and worn corsets and can-canned while suffering from kidney infections, but having a cold or a sore throat could be the end of our singing role in Mamma Mia. We don't have a disregard for our health and we aren't being dramatic; our chosen career paths just have different physical demands. 

8. We speak a different language.

If you have ever been in a room with a group of actors, dancers, singers then you will have witnessed this. We are not bi-lingual (well, some of us are), but the terms and words we use when we are around each other can seem foreign to those "outside of the circle." 

9. We are fiercely protective of our field of study.

Ever said "it must be so much fun being able to run around singing songs and playing for your degree" to a theatre kid and been near thrown to the floor? That's firstly because it is probably the 10,000th time that person has heard someone say that and secondly, completely wrong. When we have a show coming up and exam deadlines all at the same time, we are memorizing 50 page scripts, learning not only your choreography but two other people's in case they cannot perform, begging people for rehearsal spaces, writing five 4000 word essays, designing show sets and programs, and so many other things. We are frequently in the studio from 8 in the morning until 10-11 at night with only one short break so our social lives don't exist. Our courses are beyond amazing, they are life changing, and we wouldn't change them for anything, but it is so physically and mentally straining that pretty much no performing arts student would say "yeah, my course was so fun!"

10. How many minutes?

We can ALL tell you how many minutes there are in a year. "Five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes."

So there you have it. 10 things about Theatre people that others may find weird. I hope you enjoyed! 

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