By: Chaviva Freedman  | 

My Love For Theater Is… Weird

I'm sitting here in my dorm room, attempting to write a paper that is due in the next few days, and my mind is shifting to other places. I look at my calendar and I see that my schedule is filled with school and… meetings. I always seem to be in a meeting for the play that the Yeshiva College Dramatics Society will be performing in the spring semester. It's like my life is constantly filled with theater, and yet at the moment… my heart isn't in it.

It's funny. My relationship with theater has definitely developed into the “love-hate” phase as of late. I go through these cycles where I'll find a show tune that my mom used to play for me as a child and I'll play that song ad nauseum until I can't stand it anymore and have to listen to something on the Top 40 radio. And then, I find something that my roommates told me to listen to and the cycle repeats again. It's almost like a Ferris wheel, and as soon as you're at the bottom, someone pulls you to go back on it and suddenly you're at the top again.

Now, let me be clear. I do not consider myself a “theater geek.” I can't stand talking about the latest Broadway show that has been the talk of the town for the past six months. I actually prefer to discuss what's going on in my friends’ lives than focus on theater. I get so annoyed at people who can only express their favorite Broadway show with screams and cries about their favorite actor/actress. Don't get me wrong - I do have some favorite shows and actors (remember Danny Zuko from Grease: Live? Yeah, that's Aaron Tveit - he started out in theater. Also, no one can forget Lin-Manuel Miranda, AKA Hamilton superstar). It embarrasses me that people can't formulate the right words to express themselves and have to resort to sounds. It makes no sense to me why people have YouTube channels and social media accounts dedicated to Broadway stars that they most probably will never meet again after going to the stage door to get their Playbills autographed. I've seen it when I go to a show - it's downright weird to me. But if I have so many issues with the people, then why do I find myself so attracted to it?

That question is something that has haunted me for a long time. Since I started college, I always said my dream job was to stage manage a Broadway show. It's been my dream since my senior year of high school. But after working as a stage manager for various YU productions and interning at an Off-Broadway theater over the summer, maybe I need to reevaluate things and look at what makes me happy about the theater.

I contemplate the thought, and something occurs to me. It never was about the people who were fans of the one show that they deem to be the best piece of theater. It was the in-betweens that would make theater so exciting to me. It’s the heart and soul that the actors bring to each character in order to shape them to be what the audience is going to react to. It’s the directors who meticulously go over stage directions again and again to ensure that the vision that they want to portray is accurately depicted. It’s the stage crew who does the brunt of the work and never gets a thank you for moving a prop from one side to another. It’s the people like me - the stage managers who just want the show to go as smoothly as possible, without worrying about major hiccups and something terrible happening. It’s about the team - not the individuals. If all these so-called “Broadway” fans took the time to see how much work actually goes into a show and not proceed to have a panic attack in the process, then maybe I’d be more understanding of them. Until then, I will cower behind the curtain, watch everything unfold and watch the cycle continue.

So where does that leave me? Are all these thoughts a hint that the world is saying I should abandon theater and what it represents? I honestly don’t know. It’s definitely something for me to consider as I finish school. I’m a Media Studies major - even if theater isn’t the end result, I have many other roads to walk on. The theater doesn’t define who I am - I am the person who defines the theater.