Theatre people are weird. I say this as a theatre person — and with great admiration.
People who enjoy being on stage are usually self-aware, loud, and oftentimes rambunctious. If you’ve never met a “theatre person” before it can take some getting used to. They are often super-busy, juggling multiple jobs and often work outside the 9-to-5 standard. Having said that, theatre people are also empathetic, supportive, encouraging and imaginative. Some of the quirkiest people I know are theatre people and I wouldn’t have it any other way but to have them in my life.
Just last week I began a wonderful opportunity of teaching a 4th Wall class at Michigan State University (MSU) and was introduced to a whole new group of theatre people.
The concept for this 4th Wall class is that young children with autism are mentored by the juniors and seniors of MSU’s Theatre Department.
Working with them for the first time, I was reminded how theatre people are, well, weird. Saying things like, “Now we are all going to wear silly hats” or “Ready to dance like robots?” doesn’t fluster them like you’d think it would. Asking them to roll on the floor like snakes or become a jedi knight gets them energized and ready for more. They’ll do it with gusto, again and again.
Theatre people have superpowers because the world of theatre itself provides an example of how to be comfortable with who they are. My students have taken to nudging others aside to sit next to “their” college friend. Why? Because being uninhibited by others’ opinions creates a freedom to explore without worry. What a wonderful example. And of course, the MSU students love the opportunity to share their craft. A win-win for all, I cannot wait to see what happens next week.