There are a lot of stereotypes about drama kids, some more accurate than others. (If you haven't already, look up SNL's "Crucible Cast Party" sketch with Lin-Manuel Miranda; it's a bit of a touchstone.) And by the way, "kids" is not age-specific; we all use the term forever.
After more than 25 years in theater, and with the help of some fellow thespians I've met along the way, I dissected some of the most commonly assumed characteristics of stage-folk; let me know if you think I'm wrong.
The men are all gay.
So incredibly untrue. Theater may not have a larger percentage of LGBTQIA+ participants, but it's probably a field in which those folks feel more comfortable being out. So it may seem the population is larger—but you'll find plenty of hetero (or otherwise not specifically homosexual) dudes onstage.
If the men are not gay, they are misogynistic womanizers.
Also untrue. Recent allegations about the trash humans in pretty much every industry ever reveal that #yesallmen—so sure, a number of people in theater are dumpster fires. But, like the example above, I don't think it's a particularly large percentage, and I personally have met some of the finest, most progressive men I've ever known through theatrical endeavors.
Theater kids all love Halloween.
Even if I am the only theater kid on Earth who despises Halloween, my sheer existence disproves this assertion. Yes, it's a chance to dress up and play with your identity, but it's also a shitty holiday, and candy sucks. You can't change my mind. False.
They are all super melodramatic.
At the College of Santa Fe (RIP), the late, great novelist and professor Mark Behr taught his students the essential Gustave Flaubert quote: "Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work."
The vast majority of serious artists I have encountered in any field live by this doctrine. When your life is in constant manufactured upheaval, it's hard to concentrate on your craft. So no, actors are not drama queens. They can actually be pretty boring, and many are kinda awkward introverts once you get them out of the spotlight.
They're always saying, "I can't, I have rehearsal."
Yup. A theatrical production is an incredible time commitment. Rehearsals often go down five to seven times a week for up to three months, depending on the show, and you do not miss rehearsal unless you're on your deathbed.
Beyond rehearsal, you need to memorize your lines, review blocking, practice music and dancing, and try to keep yourself healthy to make it through Hell Week and the run without succumbing to the crud (jk, there is no way to avoid the crud). A show is a world you build and inhabit, and that's a lot of work—so we gotta miss some social obligations for that. Come find us in a few weeks. (But not a few months, because by then we'll be in another show.)
There is a canon of shows that everyone has done.
Totally. If you haven't done at least three of the following, you are fake news: Fiddler on the Roof, Once Upon a Mattress, The Crucible, Grease, Guys & Dolls, Oklahoma!, Our Town, You Can't Take It With You, Annie, How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (abbreviated in discussion as H2$), A Midsummer Night's Dream, Cabaret, A … My Name is Alice, The Vagina Monologues, The Laramie Project, or The Importance of Being Earnest. Extra points if you are a girl who wore a beard in Fiddler, or if your Midsummer was outdoors.
It's super cutthroat and you can't trust anyone.
Untrue. The theater is a tiny community, especially in small towns—and, as a result, everyone sees everyone's dirty laundry. That may seem to prove the above assertion, but think of it this way: If everyone knows everything about you, there aren't any secrets. There's nothing but trust, in a way.
Sure, stories about you and your work ethic may get around. If you're an asshole, your reputation will probably precede you and you'll be toxic, but that's your fault for being an asshole. If you're talented, professional and easy to work with, that will precede you too—and good on ya.
Techies are weird.
I mean, yeah. But everyone's kinda weird.
And the truth is, no one would be able to see or hear you without the booth crew. You'd be running into furniture without your run crew. You'd miss your cues without your dressers. You'd basically have no show without your stage manager. Those purposefully unseen folks in black are the true heroes of the stage, so pay them the respect they deserve.
Everyone is always ON, all the time.
Untrue. Those people certainly exist—the folks who you feel like getting a beer with them is attending your own personal stand-up comedy show, or those who consider every single damn thing that has ever happened a deep, artistic, heart-wrenching experience. But that's not everyone. Most of us are much more chill.
One thing that does happen, though, is unique to people learning tap dancing: They are constantly moving their feet. It's subtle, but watch for it. I, for one, have never tap-danced, but I've heard it's just so dang fun you can't not do it 24/7 once you learn.
They're really superstitious.
Absolutely. I've been practically tackled to stop me from reciting a certain poem in a theater (I didn't know it was forbidden!), and anyone who says the M-word (aka The Scottish Play) backstage is immediately shoved outside to spin three times, spit, curse and knock to get back in. Every theater has a ghost light to appease the ghost—because there is always a fucking ghost. Don't you dare whistle backstage, while you're at it. Ask any theater kid you know about their crazy stories about what befell those who broke tradition. You'll get your mind blown.
They're really good liars.
Untrue. I'd even argue that many actors are particularly bad liars. Acting is not about putting on a veneer of another person's identity; it's about truly believing you are that person, inhabiting their life. It's essentially about the deepest truth possible: Becoming another being in every authentic way.
Trust your actor friends. They don't know how to fake it.
Everyone is getting laid.