The day has arrived. After a days-long agonizing wait for the cast list, it’s finally been posted. You sprint toward it, let your eyes scan over the page, and finally let them rest on…what’s that? Your name.
And you’re completely taken aback. You thought your audition was awful. You were sure that the director was convinced that you weren’t right for the part. BUT YOU WERE.
And all of a sudden, the following realization (along with a rush of adrenaline) hits you: For the next six weeks, you’re going to working with a fabulous cast on a wonderful production.
If this isn’t your first show with the company, you’re seeing this as an opportunity to take some of the younger cast members under your wing. You’ll be leading them through warm-ups, helping them run lines, and teaching them everything you know.
And then the day everyone’s been waiting for finally rolls around: read-throughs, where at long last, you can get your hands on a hard copy of your very own script, and really start playing with your character.
You’ll be hitting the script and working to get off-book as fast as you possibly can, staying up late into the night until falling asleep with your script on your pillow becomes a regular occurrence.
And then you’re thrown head first into constant rehearsals. You work to master your lines…
…and any other character work that will give you an edge.
You scramble to put together your stage makeup, costume, and props. Piece by piece, your character comes together before your eyes, and hiding your excitement becomes completely impossible.
And before you know it, it’s opening night. And not soon after that, you realize that you’ve closed. You’ve just wrapped a fantastic run, and you’re totally psyched. You remembered all your lines. Your blocking was perfection. You did, in fact, stick the landing. And so did your castmates. You’re on top of the world.
But all of a sudden, your excitement begins to waver, and you get that sneaking feeling that something isn’t right. Maybe it started during bows. Or maybe during your last warm up with the cast. Or during your final dress rehearsal. Either way, you’re feeling it, and you know what it means: your show is over. Really finished. Done for good.
But c’mon, you’re an actor! You have supreme control over your emotions–it’s your job. This doesn’t phase you in the slightest.
Besides, the end of a show’s run means freedom! New possibilities! Endless opportunity! You’re not the least bit upset–
Okay, you’re still just the teensiest bit bummed. Not close to crying or anything like that. That’d be pathetic. No, you’re just in a little emotional rough patch, that’s all.
You quickly realize that your rough patch is rougher than expected. You’ve got that funny feeling in your throat, and you can feel the tears welling up, but you’re not going to cry. You’re not going to cry. You are not going to cry. You are a strong, independent cast member who don’t need no–AAAND here come the tears.
All your fun cast memories come flooding back to you, and after improving your mood for a few moments, you realize that they’re all over, and you can’t get them back. You’re never going to play your character ever again. You’ll never work with the exact same cast you’ve grown to love. It’s all…gone.
You eventually pull yourself together and move on with your week, but you still feel horrible days later. It’s like your trapped underneath an overhanging cloud of gloominess from which you can’t escape.
And of course, any non-theatre person will be taken aback by your glum disposition following what they thought was a great show. I can almost guarantee you that some jerk will say, “There’s no reason for you to be upset. I mean, honestly. Boo-hoo you miss your little theatre friends. Just get over it.”
And to them I say, “Think waiting for the next season of Sherlock is hard? Try waiting for your next production.”
Because the fact is, you do miss your castmates. You miss your director. You miss your assistant director and your stage manager. You miss your rehearsal space and your costume and your character and your pre-show rituals and you miss, well, everything.
In fact, you’re feeling so down in the dumps that if you took a picture of yourself right now, you’d look something like Zachary Quinto in this situation:
…which I’m telling you right now, is totally fine. Absolutely fine. One-hundred-fifty percent fine. You have my permission to wallow in your post-production misery for the next week if you want to. Break out the dessert and the takeout and feel free to stuff your face if it makes you feel better.
But why am I telling you that binging on Ben & Jerry’s is acceptable? Well, as the brilliant and wise Tom Hiddleston says,
And grief for a character (or for the end of a show’s run) is an equally real feeling. Don’t beat yourself up about it–it’s normal. But how can you get yourself back to your preferred normal (i.e. not weepy, frustrated, and subsisting solely on boxes of Ferrero Rocher truffles)?
GET SOME SLEEP. Be honest with yourself: you’re drained. Performing night after night is an exhausting exercise, especially when you’re doing it in addition to seven classes a day. You never really recovered after hell–, um, I mean, tech week, and you know you haven’t gotten over four hours of sleep a night since. So get the rest and relaxation you deserve after all your hard work.
And just because your show’s run is complete doesn’t mean you can’t still show your castmates a little love now and again. Make sure that you stay in touch with them. Meet up for coffee, dinner, bowling, a game of Cards Against Humanity–whatever it takes you to keep in contact.
If there are no theatre-centric projects for you to tackle, maybe the universe is telling you to use your extra time to really bring your A-game in your classes. Apply the time and dedication you commit to your drama work and apply it to your studies. Who knows? As a student, you might go from this:
But what’s the best-known cure for the post production blues? I’ll let Sir Patrick Stewart let you in on that little secret (he is, after all, endlessly more qualified than I am):
Throwing yourself into a new project will completely take your mind off your misery. You’ll be so busy memorizing new lines, experimenting with new characters and blocking, and hunting down new costumes and props that you won’t have time to be blue. No auditions around? Try working on honing another skill that will help you in future productions. You could take dance classes…
…or voice lessons…
(Note that singing in the shower à-la-Emma Stone does not constitute voice lessons, though it is super fun.)
…or even focus on your accent work. Anything to keep your head in the game.
And now for some parting good news: post-production blues don’t last forever. In a few week’s time, you’ll be back on your feet and feeling a million times better.