At the end of every show, the actors, technicians, directors and anyone else involved leave the empty stage with an immense bittersweet feeling. That gaping hole that most actors feel after putting their entire heart and soul into a production that seems to end so abruptly is something I like to call “the Post-Show Depression” or (PSD) and don’t worry, because there is a cure!
What causes Post-Show Depression?
PSD is almost always caused by putting oneself in an energy-draining, time consuming production – usually one of larger scale, but it can occur after small showcases and performances.
PSD is a reoccurring condition, so defeating it once does not mean you are immune to it forever. It can often come back in a more aggressive form, especially if you continue to work with the same theater company or group of people in multiple productions.
Do not attempt to avoid PSD because it is a natural reaction after having worked on a major production. Fearing the condition may cause you to irrationally fear the stage or even performing arts in general.
What are the Symptoms of Post-Show Depression?
In order to cure your PSD, you must first be able to diagnose it.
First, you will feel like a heavy weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.
Actors: The months of memorizing lines and choreography, scribbling down notes, exploring accents and gestures are finally over. You no longer have to worry about the wrath of the director when a line is skipped or a cue missed. You don’t have to waste any more time repeating that one line with the awkward wording that left you tongue-twisted every time.
Technicians and Stage Crew: There are no more backdrops to touch up or add more details to. You don’t have to fear the shrill voices of nervous actors frantically searching for their props backstage. You can forget about those late nights, shakily holding a flashlight to a marked up script, praying that the actors don’t miss their cue lines.
Go ahead and let it all out. Take a big sigh and clear your mind of the stresses of live theater.
After you get over the relief, a large wave of regret may sweep over you. Not regret about having done the production, more often this regret is created by that little voice in the back of your head saying, “If only I had one more chance, I could fix this mistake.” or “I wish I had remembered to turn my mic off when I went backstage.”
Don’t listen to these voices. You did the best that you could and the audience loved every moment of your show. They didn’t see any of the mistakes that may have happened backstage or onstage, so you need to let go of this nagging anxiety.
It is entirely possible that you come out of a show in complete disbelief. You might wake up in the morning and go frantically searching for your script, only to remember that the show is over and the script has been taken back by the director or recycled by your parents. Getting used to your newfound free time can be hard to deal with at first.
Overcoming this symptom simply takes an open mind. Accept the change in your life, and if you really can’t deal with it, get involved in another production!
Bonding with a cast and crew of amazingly talented and unique people is expected when embarking on this journey of the stage, but it can often be difficult to deal with not having this specific group surrounding you at all times. It is natural to miss the laughter of your co-actor or the muffled voices of fellow technicians whispering through headsets.
Try planning a cast and crew party shortly after the show has ended. Do not plan the party immediately after the performance because everyone will still be hyped up on adrenaline and too exhausted to think clearly. Wait a few days, or even weeks after the show to give the other members a little time to recuperate. A reunion will provide closure and give everyone one last chance to reflect on the memories (good and bad) from the show.
Don’t forget about your theater family; you have created a bond with them that is unbreakable, but don’t relive the entire rehearsal process every time you see them either.
Make sure you have a fair amount of non-theater friends too. Having a group of people to talk to about other things is a healthy and effective way to get through your PSD.
As for a cure, at Kidz Konnection we have discovered the most common way for young actors to overcome PSD is to immediately immerse themselves in another production to start the fun all over again!
Feeling like you might have a case of PSD? Don’t hesitate to sign up or audition for any of our fall, winter, or spring programs including dance classes, acting classes, improv classes, productions, and more!
By: Alex Attanasio – About the author