And I don’t mean the incomparable Joy Tomasko, or the incomparable Joy Meads, although, come to think of it, an office with these two in it would go a long way towards creating what I’m talking about, but now I’m way ahead of myself, and you don’t know what I’m talking about, and if you’ve ever wonder the characters in my plays talk the way they do, well, there’s this sentence.
Okay. From the beginning.
So we all embarked on careers in the theater because at some point in our lives, we did theater for free, and we banded together with our classmates or colleagues, and we worked long, hard hours, and we fought and challenged ourselves, and it was hard and it sucked, and then we actually did the thing, and it was awesome, and we cried tears of great happiness, and we partied and cheered each other and it was ultimately one of the most beautiful things we had ever done in our lives until that point, and we eventually found out that there were people who got paid to live that life, and we made up our minds to go live that life, no matter how hard the process of getting to that point of getting paid might be.
So then we get the jobs, and we go to the office each day, or we go to rehearsal room every day, and we get together with a bunch of other nerdy theater geeks, and we’ve found our place. We’ve gotten to the place where we don’t have to take math and science and English and PE and whatever — we just get to be in the damn afterschool drama class all day long. And yes, our jobs involve marketing and math and money and all that grown-up blahblahblah that makes everyone else who has a job anywhere in the world drag their feet and wish they were someplace else from 9-5 (or in our case, 10-6 at the earliest) everyday, but still. We’re working in the theater.
And still, it’s not a very joyful place.
And for a lot of us — especially those of us who maybe grew up in cultures that celebrated the drum, or honored joy by sharing huge communal meals with the people around us, or that can’t do housework with music in our ears, or believe in bringing babies everywhere we go so they can both bring joy and be raised by that proverbial village that other people think they invented — for those of us who grew up with those values, the unjoyful workplace is a bitch of a place to find ourselves.
And then I look at places like Google, where lunch is taken care of, and employees are encouraged to come up with and pursue dream projects, and it’s all vaguely communal, and there are those swimming pools where you stay in one place and the water moves around you, and there’s all this awesome stuff and ideas and energy, and I wonder — why don’t theaters look like that?
I don’t have more specific ideas than this right now. I’m kind of vomiting this all out. But I guess what I’m getting at is this: those of us who work in the theater are kind of in the top percentile of luckiest people in the world. We get paid to do what we love. Or to support what we love, at the very least. And a lot of the time, our workplace doesn’t seem all that happy. (And yes, that’s probably indicative of the United States itself, but that’s for another time and place.)
And I guess what I’m saying is if I ever run a theater (and if I was betting, I’d bet that I’m gonna do that someday), it’s going to be a place where my employees love to be.