Q's Countdown

1o ways a theatre-wallah is like a drug addict

The other day I was trying to explain the passion that we theatre people have for our vocation, and the only thing I could come up with was that 'It is like a drug'. The more I searched the more TRUE the statement seemed. So I decided to put down ten ways we theatre junkies are like the real junkies. Here goes:

  1. Doing lines gets you high!
    Yes it's true. Although these lines are actually the black kind rather than the white kind. An actor is only happy when they are acting. So doing lines you get to relive those moments on stage, albeit just in your head and just for the audience of one.

  2. You got to support the habit.
    Just like the injection junkies, theatre junkies also need to find a way to support their habit. Some people model, some do tv, some film and some even call centres; all in an attempt to fund the habit of doing theatre.

  3. It's addictive
    Talk to any fresher about their first time on stage, and they will tell you, once you've got a taste for it, there is no going back. Rehab in the form of MBAs, CAT classes, CA exams have been tried, and all have failed. The power of performance is too strong to ignore.

  4. It's a high nothing else can match.
    There is a thing called a performance high. It's usually seen right after a 'hit'. Hang around outside any theatre and you will see the cast and crew emerge, more energetic than you would expect. Gurgling sounds and lack of volume are good indicators of how 'high' the performers are.

  5. Looking dukhi
    You can always tell a theatrewallah. Unshaven, looking morose, usually unkempt, perhaps even a torn kurta. However this is not due to neglect, more due to the strenuous and vigorous rehearsal that they have just come from.

  6. Moving in packs
    Just like drug addicts theatre folk move in packs. Seeking out each other's company over the rest, "People don't understand what it's like man!". What's more, if there are two unknown people at a large social gathering, the fact that they are theatre addicts means that more often than not they will connect and spend the evening together, talking about where they get their 'fix'.

  7. Shame of parents
    It is always hard for parents to tangibly explain in public what you do. So usually "still studying" or "looking for a good job" are answers that come readily. Only in the rarest of rare circumstances (like opening night), will parents beam proudly about their Theatrewallah child.

  8. Stealing of items from home
    While drug addicts steal lamps and furniture items to sell for drugs, theatre wallahs steal similar things from home but to adorn the stage. Many a parent uttered a cry a shock as the curtain has gone up and they discover their expensive vase or antique side table as part of the set.

  9. Always bumming off friends
    A theatre addict means that all earnings go into the theatre. Therefore certain moves (or lack thereof) are customary such as not reaching for the bill when out with friends. The friends don't mind, because by paying your bill they get to lecture you on life's priorities.

  10. Hanging around waiting for pushers
    An actor wanting to act is very similar in behaviour to a drug addict wanting a fix. They pace around near where they know the pushers (read producers) hang out.