I started writing a post about Valentine’s Day and how, as a ‘singleton’, I bloody love Valentine’s Day and all its couply-lovey-dovey celebrations of caring about another person enough to piss away £5 on a card scented with roses that sings a Tom Jones song. I also enjoy all the anti-romance stories that suddenly get dusted off and put back into anecdotal repertoires for a few days, like when my mum bought my dad a Toblerone, ate it, then wrapped up the box and gave it to him anyway.
Now Valentine’s Day is long gone. But that wasn’t really the point of what I was going to write so I’ll soldier on regardless.
Recently, for the first time in a while, I went on a First Date. I will not create any suspense and tell you now this didn’t work out, in case (like a surprising number of people) you give even the slightest shit about my love life. It didn’t work out because I am awkward, have no chat and find the non-ironic use of wink face emoticons in text messages largely disconcerting. But, I digress.
The First Date revealed something that I had never realised before: liking theatre is a bit strange. To say ‘I really like theatre’ is fine and normally about as far as it will go. Unless also deeply enamoured with the performing arts, the other person in the conversation will perhaps ask you about a few West End musicals or what you reckoned to David Tennant as Hamlet, and then leave it at that. But if you’re making a vague attempt to establish some sort of connection, the exchange will deepen, and you can watch your First Date partner getting uncomfortable.
I like alternative and experimental theatre which adds difficulty to the situation. A lot of things I see aren’t based on classic scripts and, unless you’re following the theatre scene, probably aren’t really in the domain of common knowledge.
So there’s that point where you mention that you saw this GREAT puppet show about HITLER that had this WEIRD FIGURE OF DEATH in it who did MAGIC TRICKS and it was just SO interesting but also had some flaws that altered the plays message beyond what seemed to be intended.
Your First Date partner’s eyes have widened now. You’ve mentioned Hitler and you’ve mentioned puppets. Then you’ve over analysed. That’s a string of massive turn offs right there. The conversation has died and it was you that killed it dead. Finish your dinner in silence and fuck off as politely as possible.
But liking theatre is like being from Peterborough or having size 10 feet: I can’t change it. I could try, but pretending to be disinterested would crush my soul in the way that wearing a daintier size 6 shoe would crush my monstrous ladyfeet. Because I don’t just like theatre, which is the real problem. Trying to put into words how much I really do love it is a challenge, and explaining a slightly nerdy passion to its full extent while still trying to be ‘alluring’ is even more challenging still.
So because this is an element of me that I cannot and would prefer not to change, what does this really mean? If I was dead keen for a relationship, would I be doomed? Or would I have to wait until someone equally mad for folksy-puppet-storytelling or verbatim theatre about the issues of children finally presents themself? To be honest, those people are already in my life, forming my immediate friendship group, cushioning the paranoia that society is judging theatre makers. If any new people fitting this criteria pop up, chances are I’ll be more interested in collaborating with them than fucking them.
IdeasTap, along with their IdeasMag, have explored this a bit. One is a discussion, which draws some pretty grim conclusions: living as an artist will lead to you planning your sex life around what your parents are up to, and your relationships will suffer from a constant sense that you’re inadequate, for example. I’d like to add that, for those who really are super-fucking-obsessed with this theatre thing, you are probably not great at talking about things that are not theatre. At least, that’s what it seems like my group of dysfunctional, aspiring theatre-maker friends. Plus, there’s all the advice and info that comes with selecting a future in the arts: one of which is inevitably ‘say goodbye to any hope of romance’.
Perhaps, then, I’ve said my goodbyes and accepted my fate. I shall die alone in a pile of budget spreadsheets and ticket stubs. I’m ok with that, I suppose. But that’s probably because I love theatre quite so much.
In all honesty, I just wanted to discuss this. To explain what theatre means to me and what it means to have it mean anything at all. To wonder how this affects the (admittedly few) non-theatre elements of my life and to wonder why.
I’ve not drawn a conclusion. Apart from that I really like puppets.