The Value of Working With Friends (Boulder, Pt. 1)

Jun 6, 2011 by     No Comments    Posted under: Playbills (Theatre), Relationships

As I write this post, I’m sitting on a bed in which I’ve never slept. This bedroom room doesn’t belong to me. This apartment isn’t mine. Yet this is my home for the next two weeks, thanks to two amazing friends who are putting a roof over my head until the lease on my new apartment begins. It’s no wonder, then, that I am reminded of the strong value of friendship.

For actors, friendship can be a tricky thing. We can’t always attend our friends’ shows if we’re in rehearsal for our own. In fact, our schedules are often so hectic that we have trouble sustaining healthy relationships with people we don’t already see every day. If you’re like me, many of your non-actor (read: normal) friends don’t always understand you, and vice versa.

But there’s a brighter side of the coin, lest you think my idea of friendship is little more than a disappointed smile. In a career (read: life) filled with uncertainty, actors can often turn to their friends in times of need. Because we study the human condition firsthand, we actors can also pride ourselves in being pillars of strength for ailing companions in need of a sympathetic¬†shoulder on which to cry. Keeping up friendly relationships with acting colleagues can lead to awesome opportunities for both parties down the road. At the end of a long night of rehearsal, or after a tedious film shoot, we’re the ones rounding up the gang to head to the nearest gin joint to socialize (read: get shnockered).

I spent the past five weeks in Colorado, getting to know some of the finest performers with whom I have ever worked. From the very first day of rehearsal, there was an amazing rapport amongst the cast. Some of us were acquainted from previous productions. Many had gone to college together. We were all pretty young (I was the old man of the group, but let’s not talk about that), and we quickly forged strong friendships.¬†As the weeks went by, that friendship grew into trust, and we allowed ourselves to be more and more vulnerable with each other. Like, frighteningly vulnerable. It was that vulnerability that snowballed into an incredibly moving production, and it all started with friendship.

For the first time in my career, I had to cry onstage. Lemme tell ya… in a 50-seat theatre, there’s no faking it. I never could have gone to such dark places if I didn’t know that my castmates had my back. But they did. And I could feel it. :-)

I’m reminded of one of my favorite aphorisms, care of fellow blogger Ben Whitehair: “If you surround yourself with great people, you will accomplish great things.” That goes for acting, life, and everything in between. I treasure the amazing people I met in Colorado this month, and I’m excited to be back in Chicago to continue working with my brilliant friends in this brilliant city.

Living the dream,

~JVB