If you want to make friends, join a theatre group
Dear 15-year-old me choosing an extra-curricular activity,
It’s difficult to choose an activity, isn’t it? Of course, you want to enjoy what you’ll be doing, but at the same time, (friend) politics gets in the way. When you’re new to the school, you want to make sure you’re in the ‘right’ friend group. You want to find your people. I get that feeling.
What do I mean by ‘right’ friend group?
‘Right’ means who you get to be the real you. ‘Right’ means friends you are comfortable with. A friend group that accepts each other...Where can you nurture a friendship like that?
In the theatre.
Joining a theatre group means working on a show together, but it’s so much more than that.
You will sit in a circle with your fellow drama friends and every session, your drama teacher will ask everyone for their cookie and crumb. A cookie is something that happened today that was amazing. Something fun you did. Something that made you happy. Something you accomplished…You get the picture, it’s your cookie of the day. And the crumb is the not so great thing that happened. When you share (or not share, that’s also your choice), the rule is that you can always have two cookies, but never two crumbs. That’s the golden rule.
You will learn that Ken did well on his test so he’s extra hyper today. And that Lisa is so nervous about her upcoming piano recital that she can’t concentrate much. You share that you had a fight with your sibling this morning so you’re annoyed.
When you work on a show together, you are going to be tapping into your emotions. Sometimes it’s going to be tough. You’ll be going through a loss in real life and you have to work on a scene where your character is also hurt. You might sob uncontrollably during rehearsal. And that’s okay. No one will ask you anything, but they’ll give you a big hug and understand.
And when another friend is going through a rough time and cries, you will also hug and comfort him/her/them.
How do people bond? Sharing emotions and vulnerability. Empathy.
Of course, you will encounter problems. The theatre is not some magical place where it’s all rainbows and unicorns. As with life, you will experience obstacles.
Sometimes you’ll have trouble memorizing a line or a monologue. The words just don’t stick. So you ask for help from your fellow theatre friend. You run lines together.
Look at you, problem-solving like a boss. This might feel like nothing, but it’s you conquering a problem. Be proud of that. For sure, there will be more obstacles as you keep going, but you’ll know how to solve them.
Don’t forget about the sense of accomplishment you will feel when you go up on stage. Months of hard work and conquering those obstacles condensed into a performance. Acting on stage is quite thrilling. The adrenaline is like no other.
Standing on stage might feel the most important thing, and that’s great too. Just remember that what you went through and the friends that you’ve gotten closer with are also big accomplishments.
Oh boy, I hope you get to experience that.