An Actor's Perspective - When the Show Ends...

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

Post-Show Depression, some laugh and say it’s not real, but those who have felt it know that it’s very real. The end of a show can hit different people in different ways. It can also vary from show to show, but let me back up for a moment. The final curtain has fallen, strike is complete and you have partied with your cast mates to celebrate the success of your show. You get home and suddenly realize, that’s it, there are no more lines to be said, no more rehearsals, no more performances, it is simply, over! 

Of course in community theatre we all have lives outside of the theatre, but for a few months that cast became a family. They were your show family, you spent time away from your other loved ones, neglected things that needed to be done at home and in many instances, took at least a few days off from work for the sake of the show. There is no gradual ending where you can wean yourself away from it. It is more of a very abrupt stop and maybe even crash.  

The abrupt halt can be startling, but there is really no other way to do it. Most often in community theatre you have a rented space that needs to be cleared out or even if it is the group’s space there is most likely another performance ready to get their set up. So suddenly near the end of strike, you turn around and that set you had been performing on just a few moments ago is gone. It has been broken down, the scraps have been thrown out, the pieces that can be re-used have been stored, set dressing and props are packed away and there is little left of that world. 

With the set gone though, it’s time to party, can’t get upset yet. There’s music (not from the show) to dance to, food to eat, maybe a few drinks, but really there is just more fun to be had.

This is often a time to show how much the cast appreciates those that worked behind the scenes and didn’t get the applause the cast got.  

Our cast party was amazing, pizza, music, some drinks and a whole lot of fun. While we were dancing and singing songs at the top of our lungs, it was in the back of our heads the whole time that this was all about to come to an end. As all shows do! Sure, you will perform with some of those people again, you may even do the same show again at some point. You will never do the same show again with the same people though. 

Thus far I have concentrated on the shows that we don’t want to leave behind (maybe because the show that inspired me to write “An Actor’s Perspective” was one of those shows), but most people who have done community theatre for any period of time have done a show or two that they were happy to leave behind. There was one I did, not that long ago, that I really couldn’t wait to be over. Though these shows still teach me a lot, it was still a blessing for the show to end. 

Hopefully, most people in community theatre have had the same experience as I have though. I have done many shows with many different groups and 97% of them have been great experiences that I have learned a lot from and been very sad to let go of.  

In fact, I have never been in a show where I didn’t learn something new. If you are open to it I think every show can teach you something about yourself, about life, about friendships, about passion, about theatre and about many other things. In the end, when all else is said and done it’s what you take away from the experience that is what really matters.  I feel very lucky coming out of this show, I learned something very important about myself. I am stronger than I thought! 

My suggestion is to take it all in. As you go through rehearsals, get to know your cast mates better, create that close-knit family before you get to performance time. Open yourself up to learning, not just what you need to know to give a great performance, but something you can take with you.  Theatre offers so much more than a place to perform, allow yourself to discover that during the process. Above all, appreciate it, know that in just a short time, before you know it, it will be gone…

End Note: I just want to take a brief moment to thank everyone who read this column. I had thought about writing it many times and I am so glad this was the show I finally decided to write it during. It has been a great experience. Thanks to OnStage for indulging this idea of mine and I look forward to writing for them as long as they will have me.