Family, in traditional terms, are people that were given to us, that we did not choose.
Friends are a family we choose for ourselves based in love, respect, and mutual interests.
Theatre people are those who start out as working colleagues, people brought together for a temporary time to work, laugh, cry and expose our inner selves in sometimes very vulnerable ways, to whom afterward we might choose to stay connected. Or perhaps we don’t see them for years. But when we do, often it’s like no time has passed at all.
The intimacy of working so closely and so emotionally with your fellow actors, technicians, designers, director… It often connects us, like members of a tribe, with an unspoken commitment of support and care, of encouragement and acknowledgement, of remembrance of the landmarks of our lives. It’s a powerful thread between us, even over great time and distance.
This is the family I’ve expanded and welcomed over the 30-ish years of doing theatre. Together we’ve celebrated birth and life and cried over death. We’ve uplifted each other, shared opportunities and successes, and toasted the failures and losses. I feel so thankful for this huge family I now have, and I wish others who don’t experience it could understand how wonderful it can be.
I never had a big family, myself. No siblings. I was not very close to my extended family members. Over the years I’ve lost my grandparents. My father was distant for most of my life, and recently I lost my mother. This makes me all the more grateful for this tribe of passionate artists and friends. It’s not the things we acquire that define us. It’s the people we connect and share with that carve the notches on the timeline of our lives. The sharing of our joys, our sorrows, and the collective memories of all those moments past that we carry with us on our journey. Thank you to all my theatre friends who have shared these moments with me.
Patrick Spike is the Theatre Community Liaison, system expert, and one of the original architects of the Arts People software system, with over 30 years in performing arts creation and administration. www.patrickspike.com