Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cast Unity

So I think I've mentioned several times in my blog that I am not the most social person in the world. I would much rather sit in my room and read a book or watch a movie by myself than go to a party. I would much rather have a quiet lunch with one or two close friends than have a group meal, even if it's with people I know and love. When I do go to restaurants, I much prefer a booth in the back away from from everybody rather than being seated near a lot of people. When I do go to the movies, I would much prefer it if there aren't a lot of people there (ideally, there would just be me and perhaps a couple of close friends (provided they aren't too chatty during the movie)).

I'm not big on noise. I very much value my quiet time. Parties and crowds, loud music and people talking over one another make me a bit antsy. I have spent days in a row before without leaving my house because unless I need to go out, I'm perfectly at ease entertaining myself. I am not one of those people who is afraid of being alone, and even people I love dearly, like Jonah and my mom, can attest that I do not require spending every waking hour with them (and, in fact, am quite content to be by myself at times).

At my place of work (which is a theater (I am an actor, after all)), I work with a very tight-knit group of actors and actresses. There were only two people in my group of of employees with whom I had not previously worked, and there is no one in my group that I dislike. Several of these people are close friends.

In an effort to promote cast unity, the cast often wants to do stuff together outside of our rehearsals (social activities, meals, etc.) I have worked for this theatre company several times now, and it's always this way, and that's fine. I get it. And everybody who knows me knows I am not the most social guy in the world, so they tolerate my lack of desire to sometimes participate in these activities. And I do try to make an effort to be social.

One of our activities during the rehearsal period is "potluck Saturday." These are often "themed" lunches (example: salad bar day, Mexican, potato bar day, etc.), and we are each responsible for bringing an item or items to share with all (so on salad day someone will bring lettuce, someone else will bring chicken, another will bring kidney beans, I bring avocados, etc.) It's a fun time for all, we share a meal together, we socialize, it's all good. Except one thing: I don't much care for potluck Saturdays.

I love these people dearly, honest I do; but after rehearsing four hours straight with my cast mates, what I want most at lunch time is to find a quiet corner off by myself and decompress for a bit until we start back up again. The last thing I really want to do (no offense to any of them) is have lunch and socialize with them. This honestly isn't a reflection on them; it's me. It's what I need at that time. I love them, and they know I love them. I just greatly value my alone time at the one time in my rehearsal day when I actually have the power to be alone.

There are also some personalities in this particular cast that are very loud and energetic. This is not a bad thing, but after four hours (and knowing that I have three more hours of it after lunch), it can be a bit much at times. I just want a place where I can think or read or do whatever I need to do in peace and quiet.

This cast is no exception. I'm this way with all my casts of all my shows, for the most part. While I do make an effort to join in an occasional social activity (especially with casts I particularly like), it is more rare than not that I will actually go bowling or out to eat or to a party at someone's house or on a hike or whatever social activity has been planned. It's just not my thing (and even when I do actually show up to a social activity with my cast mates, I don't tend to stay very long - make an appearance to show that I do actually care about these people enough to come, and then get out). I find I am more willing to be social with smaller casts. I was in a show with four other people (all of whom I liked very much), and it's easier for me to be with a smaller group of people (when I'm in a full-scale musical with 30 other people, I tend to vanish).

My other reason for not liking potluck Saturdays, is that there is one individual (one of the organizers of the event) who is a little militant in how she assigns who will bring what and how it needs to be done. She's a lovely person, and I actually do like her, but she can be a bit of a "Potluck Nazi" at times, and it makes the potluck a less enjoyable experience that I already feel it is.

While it's not a great deal of money, spending money every Saturday on items I don't already have in my kitchen does add up. And because I don't go out much (other than to work and occasionally out to eat or to an occasional movie), it seems like an extra annoyance to make a special trip to the grocery store for whatever item I need for that particular Saturday's potluck item. It just feels like more trouble than it's worth. And yeah, I get to share in a good lunch with a good group of people, but honestly, I would just rather bring and eat my own lunch than participate in the potluck.

I know, I'm a party pooper (at least inwardly; outwardly, I do my duty and bring whatever is required and share in the meal with my fellow cast members, all the time kind of secretly resenting it and wishing I had more time to myself). I don't want to be a party pooper. On the surface, it seems, everybody enjoys the potluck Saturdays and enjoys the social time and having lunch together. I don't want to be the guy who puts a damper on it by not participating. (It was nice, the last time I worked for this theater, that there was a fellow cast member who shared my feelings and attitude towards potluck Saturdays; but he isn't here this time - I'm alone in my sentiment, I think).

So I plug on. Jonah encourages me to make the effort; to create memories with my cast mates that I can look back fondly on. I'm trying, as I always do, to be more social; but I'd be lying if I didn't say that, secretly, potluck Saturdays just aren't my bag.

Later, when we open the show, potluck Saturdays will end, and we'll have two-show days when the cast will want to out and eat in between shows. I usually draw the line at that. First off, it gets expensive (especially depending on where everyone wants to go), and then waiting to order, waiting for everyone to eat, figuring out the bill, all the loud conversations, etc. makes me crazy and also makes me feel that my lunch time has been eaten away. I either bring a lunch from home and eat by myself at the theater or go to a cheap fast food place and get something and then return to the theater and take a nap. That's how I like it. I usually make an effort to go out the week we close our show, and maybe one other meal during the run (or, in the case of last time, just go to lunch with the other anti-social cast member in the group), but that's all I can muster.

Does that make me a bad person?

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