Beating the Post-Show Blues
I recently finished working on a show with my university theatre. Although (at writing) we’ve only just opened, my role as the props manager came to a close as the show started on opening night. It was a wild journey, one that consumed my life for the past few months, between crew shifts five times a week, props planning, and props shopping. In fact, I recently sat in on an Italian class and was struck by how weird and refreshing it was to do something not related to theatre or to the show.
But as proud as I am of the work that my crew put into the show, and as nice as it is to know that my job is done, it’s also so strange. I can feel my post-show depression kicking in even though right now, we still have a week of shows left. What am I supposed to do with my time now that I’m not in the carpentry shop all the time? What do I do with my suddenly free Saturdays?
Post-show depression is a very real thing, and it always hits me the hardest when I’ve been emotionally invested in a show for a very long time (and believe it or not, it’s possible to do shows that you aren’t emotionally invested in!). So how do you beat that feeling that something is missing once your role is done?
I’ve found the most helpful thing is to acknowledge that these feelings are real and that they’re perfectly valid. A lot of people scoff when I tell them about the “post-show blues,” and it can be easy to feel like you’re being over-emotional. This is not the case. When something you’ve invested your heart, soul, and time into is suddenly no longer a part of your life, it’s only natural to feel like something is wrong. Allow yourself to acknowledge that and allow yourself the proper time to grieve the ending of your role – as long as it doesn’t take away from the celebration of a job well done!
Once you’ve acknowledged your icky post-show feelings, it’ll be easier to start looking for the next project to work on. I’ve always had a hard time jumping straight into a new show after a show I was working on closes – in a weird way, it feels like a betrayal of all of the hard work that I’ve put into a project. In fact, I’ve found that in the instances where I did jump right in, I wasn’t quite as excited about my newest challenge. But allowing myself time to breathe between shows and using the sudden time off to recover means that when I do eventually approach a new project, I’m doing it with an open heart and a willingness to create something new.
Post-show blues are the hardest part of any show experience, and dealing with them never gets any easier. But instead of thinking of them as something negative, recognize them for what they are – missing a project that you’ve loved fiercely. They are an indication of a job well done and art well made, and if you can remember that, suddenly the post-show depression becomes a post-show satisfaction of having given yourself to something incredible, meaningful, and worthwhile.
Until you feel ready to move on, though, blast those soundtracks, look back at show photos, and meet up with cast and crew members to laugh and cry about the beauty that was the show’s journey. After all, there is nothing quite like the bond of a theatre family, and it’s that love that you’ll carry with you into each show you do after – of which there will be plenty.