I recently read this blog by Tommy Griffin and it got me thinking about community. I have never moved abroad and I don’t feel a connection to my homeland in the way that I think some do. I don’t feel defined by where I grew up like Tommy says he does because he is Irish, but I have moved cities a few times and I have experienced loneliness, getting to know a new place for the first time, and the anxiety of being new and needing to make new friends. Like many.
Theatre is a community – the people who make up the production including the acting company and the production team, the theatre staff and also the audience. Theatre is people. And, for me, there is just something about sitting in an auditorium full of people who love theatre and watching a show that makes me feel like I belong. I like the idea of shared experience; we are all responding to a live performance together and this makes me feel like a small piece of something bigger.
I don’t always feel in the mood to watch theatre. But even then I feel like I can still take something away from the experience. I was feeling exhausted when I went to see The Weir last Monday but as I had made sure that I could get discounted tickets (using Barclays Front Row) and I really wanted to go to the Donmar having never been there before (criminal, I know), I thought I had better go. It was an incredibly professional production and it has since received brilliant reviews but I, for some reason, didn’t feel much affection for the show at all. Not because I think it was bad or anything, it just didn’t excite my imagination. But, as I relaxed in my seat and let the show play before me, I felt relaxed. I felt part of a community of theatregoers.
There can be something really nice about being in an intimate space too. I watched Dissolve at the New Diaroma Theatre last month and at the end they dropped little bits of paper down into the audience, each with a childhood memory written on it, and it was so sweet to see peoples faces around me smiling at what was written on the papers and then afterwards hearing people talk about their own memories. We all went through the experience of the production together and it felt like we all had something in common because of it.
I have recently found out that I now have to move house and I feel a bit anxious because I know it will shake things up in my life a bit. But sometimes change is good and it forces you to meet new people and experience new things. When I first moved to London, I found so many different communities to be a part of, and I discovered so many theatres, and I know there is still a lot out there for me yet to enjoy.