Mid-Show Sickness Sucks

Anthony J. Piccione

OnStage New York Columnist

Ahh, sickness. No matter how long, frequent or severe it may be, it happens to all of us at one point or another in our lives. It is something that appears in many shapes and forms. Sometimes, it causes us to be unable to attend work or a social event that we had been planning on attending. In the past, perhaps some of us (yes, I am very much guilty of this) used our acting skills to get out of school as a kid by faking it. 
However, there are some moments when it happens, and there is nothing we can do about it. It is these moments when we still have to go on and do what we still would be doing in any other case, and it is these moments that just so happen to be the worst possible times in which you could get sick.

 I’m talking, of course, about getting sick while you are in the middle of a show.

No, I’m not talking about getting sick during the rehearsal process. Even if it’s during tech week, as long as you start to feel better by opening night, it’s different. And no, I’m not talking about the infamous post-show sickness that potentially keeps you bedridden for days after closing night of a show. What I am talking about, however, are the potential culprits that cause others to get post-show sickness. The reason they are likely responsible is because they had the misfortune of getting sick during the production, and are forced to deal with the worst of their illness as they are just about to go onstage.

There is absolutely NOTHING (okay, MAYBE I’m exaggerating a bit when I say that, but you get the idea) that could make an actor’s job harder than after to deal with a cough, sore throat or stuffy nose just as they are about to go out in front of an audience – potentially with long monologues and major scenes – for a full-scale performance. I’ve dealt with sickness during both the rehearsal process and right after a show ends, and believe me when I say that neither one can compare to the horrible feeling of being sick DURING a production.

I myself am starting to get a sense of what this feeling is like during this the run of the show that I am currently acting in this week. I showed little signs of sickness on opening night, had a slight cough in the morning that I thought would pass on the following day, and now, here I am writing this column and with a bottle of Tylenol by my side as I am coping with a cold that I am gonna have to take with me to tonight’s show, all while trying to do my best to make sure that my fellow actors – not to mention the audience – don’t also get sick as a result of being around me.

So to any of my fellow actors reading this who may think that taking care of yourself and making sure that you are healthy before a show opens is no big deal, think again. Otherwise, you might just end up like me, and are forced to still give it your all in the show you are currently in, despite how you aren’t feeling anywhere close to well. I would think that it goes without saying that there’s nothing fun about that.

This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Student, playwright, actor, poet and blogger currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Anthony and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione).