7 Things Diehard Theater People Are Tired Of Hearing
I am currently living in the city of New York, aka the mothership of theater nerds. When I randomly start humming The Last Five Years on the subway or freak out because I thought I saw Laura Benanti on a subway platform for the eighth time this week, I don't stick out like a sore thumb — here I'm just a regular ole undamaged pointer finger, living in a sea of other shameless geeks. But as nice as it is to finally live amongst my ~people~, it isn't always that way in the suburbs, where theater people are generally regarded as distinctly "other" even in the general Geek Classification System.
I'm not going to pretend to understand non-theater people, because I can't remember living in a world where I wasn't one. My sanity was claimed early, and it was claimed forever. (As my hip Gen Z friends would say, "RIP, me.") But I notice that our particular brand of nerd tends to get all sorts of unwarranted commentary and advice about our hobbies and goals from people who aren't into theater. It may be well-intentioned, and the harm might be totally unconscious, but it doesn't make it any less annoying. I'd wager that most theater people could go a lifetime without hearing any of these things again:
"I'm just not that into musicals and stuff."
First off, spoken like a true person who hasn't seen one. But that aside — we don't listen to people get all excited about their recreational sports leagues and shut them down by saying, "I'm just not that into soccer." It's one thing to say this kind of stuff if someone directly asks for your opinion, in which case it's totally warranted, but I find more often than not that this kind of commentary is totally unprovoked. (Also, is just makes me sad for these people. Like, who are you? What do you listen to while you workout? Where do you put your emotions??)
"I bet your parents aren't too crazy about your major."
This is so many directions of Not Cool. First off, there is a very real possibility that someone's parents aren't happy that they majored in theater — in which case, way to go, bud, you blew that shiz wide open. But obviously if someone is majoring in theater, it has nothing to do with what their parents want. They are proud of themselves for following their passion, and don't need other people to validate it. (That being said, they are very grateful when parents do. Hey, parental units!)
Also, I hate this implication that a theater major is somehow "less than". I ended up switching my major from theater in the end, and you wanna know why? Theater is hard. You have to have skin as tough as Kevlar to survive all that rejection, and the discipline required is freaking insane. Other majors complain about their work load; theater majors have just as much work, plus rehearsals that can go past midnight without anybody blinking an eye. Theater degrees are not for the weak of heart.
"Theater seems like a really awful place to, y'know — meet people."
Outsiders seem to perceive theater kids as exclusively gay men and straight women, and while there are certainly occasions where the mix shakes out that way, reducing theater to our so-called ~dating prospects~ is not only offensive, but entirely irrelevant. Implying that people do theater just to meet people romantically not only invalidates the very real and genuine friendships they make there, but the entire purpose of being in theater as a whole. It's an opportunity for people to express themselves, to turn nothing into an incredible something — it's not a freaking speed dating event. It's sad that we live in a culture where a lot of people only deem a hobby enriching if they are in it to meet people they can mack on.*
(*Although, yes, sometimes people end up getting all up in each other's jazz hands, but nobody does theater because of that. Romance happens in theater the way it happens everywhere else — totally random.)
"I just always thought you'd grow out of this."
I think that's such a sad expectation for people to have — that the things that they enjoy all have expiration dates depending on how old you are. Sure, there are a ton more theater kids than there are people who do theater in adulthood, but for a lot of us, this is a lifelong pursuit. And besides, there is nothing childish about theater to merit "growing out of it". As much fun as it is, it's also hard, research-based, disciplined work. We do it because we love it and we work hard at it, which is hopefully true of everyone's hobbies and careers.
"I forgot how dramatic you theater types can be."
First off, telling anybody who is upset about something that they're being "dramatic" is usually rude. Like, yeah, if someone is having a full on meltdown because they didn't TiVo a Friends rerun, we're totally allowed to use the word "dramatic". But I notice that people usually only say this when someone has a totally valid thing to be upset over. Sure, theater people whine a lot — because the human race whines a lot. This isn't a theater person phenomenon by a long shot. Using theater as an excuse to call someone dramatic is just an easy cheap shot that really does nothing productive, unless you're trying to hurt someone's feelings. (Which we will then, of course, blow way out of proportion, since we're so ~dramatic~ and all.)
"How are you planning on making a living doing this?"
Theater people who are pursuing theater professionally are not doing it for the money. I mean, money would be nice and nobody's gonna say no to it ('sup, theater union). But theater people are so willing to follow their bliss that they not only accept the crappy pay, but take on a bajillion miserable side gigs to pay the rent while they do it. There's really no point in trying to reason with a theater person about the "practicality" of their career. They're way past that point, and already know that there is a much more important satisfaction to gain from it than money can ever bring.
"I just don't get what's so great about Neil Patrick Harris."
*puts you in a shuttle*
*unceremoniously launches it out into space*
And STAY OUT!
Images: NBC; Giphy(7)