Try as we might, it is inevitable that, sometimes, we must venture away from the theatre – away from that safe dome of mutual interest. It’s hard, I know, but it is true.
When we do go outside, interaction with muggles can be a scary experience, so it is best to be aware from the start of some thespian-to-muggle conversations that will inevitably crop up – conversations that every thespian simply has to go through. You will have to word your responses to these attacks carefully; be aware that sometimes you won’t be able to say exactly what you think.
Here are 5 key examples:
“You do realise that theatre is an impossible industry to get into? [Insert made-up statistic about how many aspiring actors actually get jobs.”
Recommended response – well, I’m sure you have a go-to script for this sort of awkward conversation; it seems to come up rather a lot. But you’re probably thinking ‘did I ask?‘
“I went to see [your favourite show] …”
Now, at this point, you get quite excited. You’re expecting to hear them admit any moment that you were, in fact, right all along; that show really is the best thing ever to happen inside a theatre. And you’re thinking about the best way to welcome them to thespianism (which really ought to be a word), because you’re sure they will have been converted. Not only that; now you have someone to talk to about the show – a significant bonus.
But then your hopes are violently crushed:
“… I didn’t really like it.”
Or, even worse, “I didn’t think it was that good.”
Try to compose yourself. Recommended response? ‘Each to their own’, or something like that. Of course, internally, you’re comparing their tastes to that of a caveman, and wondering if they actually have a heart… What’s wrong with them?
“I don’t really get musicals … they just sing and dance all the time; it’s hardly realistic.”
And your heart abruptly sinks. Recommended response? Similar to the response given when someone doesn’t like the best show in the entire world: ‘it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, I suppose.’ You know things are bad when you find yourself relying on a cliche like that. You’re hiding a deep, deep sense of disappointment at this so-called friend.
“Are you playing [insert the name of a principal character, when you’re actually in the chorus]?” – “No.”
“What about [another principal name]?” – “No.”
“You must be playing [yet another lead] then.” – “No.”
And they look really awkward and embarrassed when you tell them that you’re in the chorus. Recommended response? ‘I really like being in the chorus.’ But, in your mind, you’re demanding to know what exactly is wrong with being in the chorus?! It’s fabulous!
“If West End actors have such good voices, why don’t they release albums and stuff? And if they’re such good actors, why aren’t they in films, or TV programs? They can’t be as good as those people.”
How do you even begin to respond? Maybe take a few deep breaths before vehemently defending the inspirational talent of theatrical actors / actresses. Explain the muggle’s mistake as patiently as you can – launch the defensive rant.
I think a remark like this calls for saying most of what you think … but maybe leave out the insults which will inevitably spring to mind.
Let’s face it – muggles can be dangerous. You’ve simply got to be ready for whatever they might throw at you.
So be prepared before you step out of that theatre. The wider world is a weird place.