Considering my new career path and the many questions it throws up, especially among journalist/theatre friends, I thought it might be an idea to write a string of articles about PR – as people always seem to have questions! And yes, this is also a bit of shameless self-promotion… 😉
It’s hard to know who your friends are, especially in an industry populated with so many of them. Unlike the old adage that you shouldn’t work with your friends, the theatre industry almost encourages it by sheer dint of its nature as a creative industry: when the skill-set is largely subjective, you’re more likely to go with what (and who) you know and like. There’s a reason it’s renowned for nepotism!
But it also means that you’re treading a very thin line – the double-edged sword of friendship can mean that professional slights either feel like or quickly become personal ones. Or in the case of the impetus for this article, a personal slight can be hidden behind grey professionalism.
I suppose that’s the main price of working with friends – it separates the wheat from the chaff in terms of true friendship with brutal precision. Friends are honest with you, want your success as much as theirs and are both emotionally and practically supportive – and normally, the others get unmasked pretty quickly in feigning friendship to get ahead.
Because that’s the problem – it’s not difficult to feign being friendly, and the charismatic lot that are drawn to theatre find that kind of thing pretty easy. And becoming friends with people is an easy way to get ahead, as described above. Which means that we’re often a very cynical group – which is why, when a friendship is formed, it’s particularly galling when it turns out to be false.
And the longer it takes to be unmasked, the worse – I’ve recently had a couple of 2+ year relationships undercut, and it’s painful. Now, there’s no easy black or whites here (and there rarely are in most things), and it could be me who is taking this too personally, but that’s what happens – if you make friends, you open yourself up to misunderstandings and personal slights if you don’t take care to be honest.
Where I’ve made friends and we’ve supported and helped each other it’s been incredibly rewarding, both professionally and personally. And maybe that’s the point – if you don’t put yourself out there, any profession can become very lonely. It’s worth it, but there’s always the risk that someone you’ve stuck your neck out for doesn’t do so in return. You’ve just got to decide how you handle it.