Group Cohesiveness; the tendency for a group to be in unity while working towards a goal or to satisfy the emotional needs of its members.
As a member of several short term groups, I’ve witnessed this many times. It is always bitter sweet when the Beaverland Mustskis hang up their water skis after the final show each Labor Day weekend. The work involved to make a great water ski team bonds many of us to continue to get together through the off season. The core group stays the same each season, are friends off the water and we work towards next summer’s show off and on all winter and spring.
The Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre just struck (tore down) the set of The Hightower Detective Agency on Sunday afternoon into early evening. This group had been together 2 to 4 hours per day, 4 days per week for 3 months. For the final performance Sunday afternoon they were all together at the theater from roughly noon to 6:00 pm. Did they go home as soon as we released them? No, they went to Tower Lanes for a cast and crew bowling party that lasted until after 9:00 pm.
For me, nothing compares to the group cohesiveness or bond that theater people experience during the rehearsal process of a show. Be it a cast of 100 or a cast of 5, the group is together through thick and thin for 3 months. From the first read through to strike or tearing down the set, the cast and crew are together 4 or 5 nights per week memorizing dialogue and music, getting stage movements and dance steps down and developing memorable characters. If they are not in sync, the show does not work and they are not rewarded with applause or better yet laughter.
Watching a show develop from actors standing on stage with their head buried in a script reading lines like an automaton to a group of actors who’ve become an alter ego for the sake of telling a story amazes me every time it occurs. The work, dedication, angst and eventual success in the process creates a bond.
As a director I know we’ve cast the right people when they do a few simple things. They begin working out rough spots on their own; they will not stop talking to each other when I need to address the entire cast and/or crew until I raise my voice, and they associate outside of rehearsals.
For many, Monday began what is known as Post Strike Blues, or Post Play Withdrawal. The more successful the show, the deeper this feeling for some. For a ham like me, nothing beats the sound of an audience roaring with approving laughter during a comedy. For my actors who had their first leading roles, that feeling is strong right now.
I just read on our cast Facebook Group that several are planning a movie night together. I’m glad for them, it sounds like fun. Hopefully some of them have made life long bonds. I know I have made many good friends from productions gone by. It’s a unique little fraternity.
Will I join them? Unfortunately no, I’m busy the remainder of the week running sound for the Columbus High School musical opening this weekend, The Drowsy Chaperone.
Come see it, will you?!