Post Theater Blues | When a Show is Over

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.

1. Relief

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.


2. Regret

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.


3. Denial

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!


4. Loneliness

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.


The Cure:

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


Post Theater Blues | When a Show is Over — 13 Comments

  1. Last night was my schools last performance for the wizard of oz, and my last show at this school as I will be in high school next year. When I saw the pic of the the wizard of oz on here from some ones else’s production and the witch center stage wearing the exact same costume I wore I just lost it and started crying, so thanks for that ;). Haha but anyways good tips thanks!

    • Wicked Witch, I hope your show went well! I’m sure you were amazing in your final production with your school. I know how tough it is to have to move on. I stayed with the same theater company from when I was 7 years old until I had to leave for college, and throughout high school I performed in a ton of shows with my school too, which made my senior year crazy emotional on a lot of levels. I’m so glad you enjoyed the tips on my blog! It is actually my little sister playing the witch in that picture! Anyway, I didn’t mean to make you cry :/ so, I’m sorry about that…. But I hope the tips could help, at least a little.

  2. Thanks so much for this article. We just finished our final show of The Music Man last night (I was Marian), and it was also my final show at our school. There was a lot of hugging and a crap-ton of crying from everyone. It makes me feel a little better just knowing that other people experience this kind of stuff too. I’m still getting random tear-sessions but I’m very excited for whatever show I’ll be doing next.

  3. I am in a new production and have been for over a month. It’s been about 2 months since Into the Woods at my school and every few days or weeks my PSD comes back HARD. Tonight is one of those nights. As I have said, I am in a new production and it’s with most of the cast from Into the Woods. I think what I have the most PSD about is my character. I played Little Red Riding Hood, and being her gave me so much confidence, and I miss it. Also, it was my first high school production, and I just wanted it to last forever. I don’t know ow to make my SD go away. 🙁

  4. Just finished Godspell and I went home after the last show, accidentally started singing Day By Day and just burst into tears. Usually my post-show depression isn’t that bad after a show but this play was my favorite and I just keep losing it.

  5. I just finished The Lion King Jr. Today. I was already tearing on stage but then I walk in to the locker rooms and everyone is in a heap on the floor crying and I break down. After about 30 minutes of sobbing and hugging friends, we walk out and see our two guy friends and they start crying, and it was just a sobbing mess after the speeches onstage.Came home and cried for two hours.Yay…….

    • Aw! I’ve recently finished the Lion King Jr. as well, and at least five of our cast/crew cried openly at our last performance (probably more later). I held back my tears until I got home and in bed and cried for quite a while. This was a helpful article, and I look forward to plays in the future that make me feel as confident and loved as this one did.

  6. i’m writing this a week after the cast i was in did titanic the musical. i haven’t felt “like myself” since the very last number. i actually think this is the worst case of psd i’ve ever had actually. but hey, i most likely have more shows to do in the future. i’ll never forget what it was like to relive the lives of those on the ship of dreams, though. :’)

  7. I am a 48-year-old guy who just finished his first stage show for a local community theater. I had never acted before and was given a lead role. The line load was substantial. The stress and repetition to get this right. The perfectionism. The saves. The elation. It was like a battle. And then it ended last Sunday. While we stood there at curtain call it just suddenly hit me that it was over. I knew that it was the last show, of course, but the months-long journey I had been on was finished. The rumble of the train had stopped, and the lack of vibration was numbing. I felt proud and sad at the same time. A strange awkwardness. And when I gave our director a hug coming off the stage, my eyes filled with tears. “Are you crying?” my stage-wife asked me, kind of laughing to herself. I had no shame in telling her that I was.

    I can’t wait to get back out there.

  8. I just finished To Kill A Mockingbird last night and I was Jean Louise. I had so many lines and I remembered feeling relieved it was over at first, but now I’m so upset that I won’t be going to the same rehearsal space for another year and the only way I can keep in contact with the cast is through texting and calling. I don’t think I’m ever going to say those lines again and just looking back at the posters around the school are making me tear up. 12 weeks of hard work and we only got to perform it for 4 nights. Ah, I wish I could do it all again.

    • Ugh, IKR? SOOOO many emotions! I’ll be seeing my fellow actors again in two weeks, but then not for another 4 months. God, I’ll miss those beautiful, beautiful idiots

  9. I just finished my very first production as an actor yesterday and it feels so sad to know that its the last play of the year and all and I wont see the main characters in the show again because they’re going to high school next year and I wish I could always work with those same people and their amazing acting and experience again.

  10. Just finished a production of the Pirates of Penzance! I’d formed bonds with so many people and the characters, resulting in major PSD. If y’all must know, I played Mabel, and my costar came up with the nickname Marbel. Next year, I’ll be in the Yeomen of the Guard, with most of the same people, hopefully as Phoebe or Elsie, so all is not lost!

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