Why Do I Do Theatre? Ego on Holiday

Erna as Syme in 1984, photo by Matti Sillanpää, Thespians Anonymous 2011

Let’s face it: doing theatre is a lot of hard work. The lines don’t just magically appear in your head and the seamless collaboration on stage requires hours and hours of… well, collaboration. Still, theatre has been a significant part of my life since my teen-age years. Why on earth?

When I was little, my mother used to take me to the theatre. It was like entering a magical world, where everything was brighter and shinier than in the real world. It was the magic that made me join a youth theatre as a teenager. I debuted as the fifth girl from the left.

After I left the small town in eastern Finland I grew up in, finding a theatre group in the big city (on Finnish scale, mind you) that would agree with me proved to be difficult. You see, everyone was welcome on the stage of the small town youth theatre, but in the big city there was this thing called auditions. The auditions were where I totally froze.

It took me a few years to get back on the saddle. When I was doing my foreign exchange in Italy, I found a multicultural theatre group called Human Beings. There again everyone was welcome on stage. I’m not quite sure what most people do when they’re on exchange, but I was quite happy to spend three evenings a week in rehearsals. It was just such camaraderie and so much fun playing around.

Still today, it’s fun and the people are great, although the multicultural group has changed into Thespians Anonymous based in Helsinki, Finland. But honestly, it’s about more than just fun.

You see, I’m a big worrier. The thing is that when you get on stage – whether it’s in a theatre or in a practice space – you have to let your ego go, leave whatever worries you may have outside and be present on stage 100 per cent. So, you could say I do theatre because of the people, the fun-factor – and the fact it lets my worrier-ego have a holiday.

Erna Bodström has been an incurable thespian since she was bit by the theatre bug as a child. She’s convinced that chocolate makes everything better and is on any given day most likely to be found strolling the streets of Helsinki.

This entry opens a series of blog posts entitled “Why do I do Theatre?”. In the series, members of Thespians Anonymous write about the reasons behind them keeping up with a hobby that requires so much time and effort as theatre does.

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