Here's The Tea On Dating In The Theater Community
I’ve worked in theater for a long time, and I’ve gotten used to getting lots of questions from non-theater people (muggles, as us theater nerds like to call them): “How can you go on so many auditions and not get a job?” “Do you get nervous when you perform?” “Have you been in anything I might have seen?”
But the question muggles love to ask most, with their eyes all lit up in expectation of drama and gossip, is: “Are there ever any behind the scenes romances?”
I get it. The theater world is a big mystery to those on the other side of the red velvet curtain. It makes sense that muggles want in on the secrets, the juicy details. And you know what? Sometimes those details are just as salacious as they imagine. But sometimes they’re super average.
So, for all you curious muggles out there, let’s set the record straight. Here is what its really like to date in the theater.
Yes, We Date Our Castmates. A lot.
The term “showmance” (show-romance) wasn’t coined for nothing. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a production that didn’t have at least one showmance. I’ve been in a few myself.
But can you blame us? We’re a bunch of people who love the sweeping romance of live theater and probably didn’t get much action in high school. And we're all crammed in small rehearsal rooms and even smaller, dimly lit wings, doing quick changes in front of one another, being incredibly vulnerable, and staying up way too late night after night.
It’s a powder keg of feelings and sexual tension that lead to many explosive affairs. They usually end with the final curtain, but sometimes a few relationships will continue long after the cast party hangovers have faded.
Yes. There are “Straight” Men in Theater.
Its 2020 people. Can we let go of the “gay men love theater” stereotype now? It’s perfectly normal, and in fact absolutely wonderful, for people of all genders and sexual preferences to love and work in the theater.
*climbs off soapbox*
No, it’s Not Easy to Find Love or Serious Relationships.
In my personal (heterosexual female) experience, theater love is tough.
There are plenty of heterosexual men in the theater world, but not nearly as many heterosexual women. This creates an interesting and somewhat problematic power dynamic.
Let’s use an example: The Starlight Theater Company does a production of Beauty and the Beast. They hire 30 actors: 20 women and 10 men. Of the 20 women, six are unavailable. Of those 10 men, four are gay and three are in committed relationships. That leaves three single, heterosexual men and 14 women. Guess which group feels like the king of the world?
The Starlight is about to get some DRAMA.
I’m not saying that all men who work in theater are egocentric pigs that sleep with lots of women, pit them against each other, and refuse to commit. Just some of them. Boy could I tell you some stories.
No, We’re Not Getting Married Anytime Soon.
Sorry Mom/Dad/Grandpa/Auntie etc...
Most people in the theater world — men and women alike — are incredibly driven individuals who will put their love of the craft before anything else, including "normal" relationships.
We take tour jobs that put us on the road for months at a time, work long hours, drop everything and sail off to sing on cruise ships on the other side of the world, and refuse to be distracted from our goals. We give up health insurance, having kids, buying homes, retirement accounts and other pillars of muggle lives all for the love of storytelling.
That kind of drive can leave a lot of broken hearts in its wake, but it can also fulfill a lot of dreams. And those dreams are worth it.