Since I was eleven, I have been doing this thing we call theater. I really do enjoy working with adults. The first show I did had a cast of around sixty people, most of them kids, and it really scared me to be around all of those kids! But that’s how I have always been. I much prefer spending time with people who are fairly older or younger than me. My favorite shows have been those where the “adults” outnumbered the “children” (I put quotations around these because goodness knows who is really more adult).
It is very much different working with mostly adult casts rather than those made up of people closer to my age of 16. Adults make me feel less plasticky about my choices, both as a person and as an actress. This is probably because I know that being around teenagers you will be judged on nearly everything you do, and you’ve got to be careful. You can’t even be too careful, or someone will say something about that too. Like, the other day one of my peers told me I looked like I was crying rather than the looking really happy and smiley like I know I was doing, and the director knew I was doing.
Adult actors treat me differently
The only other real difference is that adult actors treat me differently from their fellow actors when we are not rehearsing or performing. I clearly cannot connect with them on the same level. This is usually because:
a. I am not from their generation, or
b. I am not as worldly and experienced in life as they are, or
c. I just don’t know the same people they know.
This summer, Josh Carson and Andy Kraft’s theater company, Mainly Me Productions, is putting on “Class of 98’” in the Fringe Festival, in which I play a sarcastic 90s high school senior. In preparation for getting some photos for postcards and that stuff, Josh sent out inspiration ideas for costumes to bring. For me, he said, “Kinda' Lisa Loeb-ish... google it.” Then later he told me, “Maybe base your look a little more on MTV's Daria instead.” I have no idea. I watched a video of Lisa Loeb singing “Stay” and was a little repulsed and then watched some Daria, which I also had never seen before.
During Comedy Suitcase's the "Harty Boys," Ari Hoptman and I got along great, doing impressions of the silly lines from the Dick Van Dyke Show that appeared in the early 1960s. But other times Joshua Scrimshaw and Levi Weinhagen would get a little off their rockers and make a few jokes that just slipped right by me....goodness knows, it was probably about some appendage, if you get my drift. At the beginning of the very first "Harty Boys and the Case of the Limping Platypus," I remember there being lots of donuts at the read through. I didn't see another donut at any rehearsals since, but I sure have seen a lot of bars, in which I order my usual Coca Cola. But I’ve stopped paying attention to what the adults order.
Mostly how they treat me differently has nothing to do with them, but has all the world to do with how I present myself. I simply can’t make the same jokes or, in my definition, witty retorts as I can with my best friend. But that’s a lot of what people do on a daily basis; they present themselves in the way that they think conveys what they want to tell to the world.
On the other hand, I think that a lot of directors who don’t have children on their stages very often are sometimes confused. I get the impression that they believe that to please the parents they must make sure that when the “child” leaves the theater, no matter the content of the show, they must maintain the same world view that they had before they entered.
During "By the Bog of Cats" with Frank Theatre, when we ended up at the end of the rehearsal process, Izze Rousemiare and I (who doubled the same role), met up to talk about the effects of the play on our lives. Within the play there was a lot of screaming and yelling; then our character’s neck is slit by her own mother, who afterwards kills herself. The cast, Izze’s parents, and, I believe, the director, Wendy Knox, thought it would be great to discuss these things. I think Izze did too. It was overwhelming topics that we don’t face on a daily basis. But I had detached myself from the show and thought it was simply odd to be discussing it, because, frankly, it didn’t matter to me at the time.
I really believe that if parents want to raise successful people in the world they should help their kids be motivated towards the arts. I hope that when their kids go into theater they know it will help them become better members of society, who are more able to deal with all sorts, and to be themselves. So please, directors, let your cast talk about the weird stuff, hopefully in a classy but indulging matter so that we can have more well rounded kids.
Trust me, it isn’t just for the parents either. I want to learn too! Most of the time I sit in a classroom and feel incredibly disinterested. When I am at the theater I feel a little more alive. So insert some knowledge here, you’ve got me for at least a couple hours!
That is my favorite part of working with adults, I really do get to learn TONS, in the least condescending way. Oddly, I feel like I am being condescended towards more often from my peers and school administration than by regular adults. Of course, none of you are regular in any shape or form.
Finally, Swearing! If you are going to abridge the adult cast, please, oh, please, let me make some money from it! Swear jars are wonderful. We'll take all that we can get!
Working with my peers is sometimes very, very fun. We almost always become extremely close to one another, worming our ways into each others crevices. But, there are some serious downsides. There are a lot more lectures on the practicalities of theater, and also it isn’t always so wonderful to have all these crazy hormones running around. My friends and I that are involved in theater clearly love storytelling and sometimes that leads to a little more lying and add-ons to our already slightly ridiculous stories. Which is fine. I do it too. But sometimes the drama continues past the stage.
So, overall, which is easier to work with show wise?
The adults, no doubt. I can’t speak for all of you, but they sure seem to be a lot more stable and consistent. Also, they probably are a lot less selfish about their art, know how to do things simply, and are better at expressing themselves. Things run a lot smoother and I have never been disappointed.
But, either way, working on every project, I am sure I will have the time of my life.