Do I Need to Take a Break?

Jennifer Kuzmeskas

Can your passion become too much? Can there be so many outside factors going on in your life that what you once loved and was your escape is now a task too?  We all know that life can become overwhelming at times. Perhaps you change jobs, your new commute is drastically different, your mother-in-law goes in a nursing home, your mentally disabled brother-in-law is acting out and don’t forget you have normal everyday life to deal with too. Theatre though, theatre is the escape that makes it all better…or is it? 

Eleven years ago, when I got back into community theatre, I had no intention of getting as involved as I did. Now, all these years later I have performed with 7 different groups, stage managed for three others, served on the board for three of those groups, helped in starting a brand new group and was even president of one group. I guess it was bound to catch up to me eventually. But I digress…

I have watched as many of my friends take a similar path. They do all the “extras” to keep their community theatre and the arts in general alive in their community while still performing in main stage shows along with fundraisers and cabarets.  Lately I have been watching them and wondering if they ever feel the burnout I am feeling right now. Do they ever consider taking a step back and saying, “I need a break from one particular aspect or another?”  For me, the multiple rehearsals a week are taking their toll. 

There are two disclaimers I should probably add here, if you are someone I have met or worked with in these theatres, know that I love each of you and this has nothing to do with the people I have had the absolute pleasure of working with. Many of you are what have kept me coming back show after show. I also feel I should mention that my passion for the arts and keeping them alive in our communities has not wavered in the least.  The arts are an extremely important part of all communities and everyone should support them to any extent they can. 

The question I am raising here is more, “Is it okay to take a step back?” It’s something I have been struggling with, maybe because I have some friends who have been involved for more than double the amount of time I have and have never felt the need to take a break, regardless of what is going in their personal lives.  Then there is a fear of what happens when I want to come back and perform again, will I be looked at differently in auditions? 

As I have been grappling with these thoughts, feelings and emotions I can’t help but think of the thousands of people in this, OnStage Theatre Community, along with the tens of thousands of people in the community theatre world out there.  I suddenly realized, I can’t be the only person feeling this way. There have got to be others, maybe I can help them and maybe they can help me. Maybe we can show the world it’s okay to take the time to make sure your passion doesn’t become another task in your day and that there are a multitude of different ways to support community theatre without being on stage, even if you are performer.

Need some ideas???  Run for a board position with your local theatre, go see your friends perform, actually go see as many performances as you can, volunteer (I don’t know of any theatre that wouldn’t welcome any and all help with open arms), donate money if you have some disposable income, promote you group and be creative, there are so many ways to help without being on stage.

So I leave you with this, if you are feeling the same way and you just aren’t sure if you are ready to jump into another show where you need to commit to 3, 4 or maybe even 5 rehearsals a week, it is okay.  You aren’t alone, it doesn’t mean you don’t still have a passion for theatre, it just means it’s time to shake things up a little.