Although Base Layer is not completely over (details in our recent post ‘Base Layer 2.0‘) the main bulk of the project we have been working towards is over. We spent a very intense three weeks with our cast and crew creating and performing the piece and then all of a sudden it was done. Hence the onset of ‘Post Show Blues’
It is definitely not a feeling unique to the world of performing – I’m sure that the time after running a marathon (for example) would have very similar vibes! One thing that seems very clear to me is that the blues are not only unique to each individual person, but also to each project. There are many different styles and forms of the blues; it could probably be scientifically investigated!!
The crying mess
In the days following a final performance, anything relating to the show environment will make you burst into tears. I’ll give you an example from my experience:
The end of January 2015. We had just finished a run of Beauty and the Beast at school – my last school musical so it was a pretty emotional time! The last performance was on a Saturday evening, the next day I was sitting at my desk in my room trying to organise my life. I was writing lists of work etc that needed to be done, and I thought ‘I’ll be able to do those questions tomorrow afternoon because I’ll come home straight from school’ And then the flood gates opened. With the show on I hadn’t come home straight from school all term so just the idea that I wouldn’t have a rehearsal to get to and therefore could do my maths homework set me off all over again! In fact I have the tweet to prove it:
Feeling like nothing good will ever happen again
This is in fact a common trait of most forms of Post Show Blues. Feeling like that project was so good that nothing will ever be as good ever again; no show in the future will ever live up to what you were part of. In fact nothing at all will make you as happy or as fulfilled as that project. When you go from such a heightened sense of enjoyment, to what feels like nothing it can be quite a drop. Of course there is always something just around the corner for you to throw yourself in to, but that can be hard to see and focus on when all you want to do is skip back a couple of days and do it all again.
Quoting the show in everyday life
Everything that anyone says is a quote. Even if its not quite the same, you can totally make it the same! Even if the people around you don’t know the quotes, you still make them because we can’t let the performance die! With Base Layer, we have had a lot of ‘What are your favourite sweeties?’ (Actor: Emily Webster) whenever anyone asks what your favourite of something is, or just speaks about children generally, and also ‘A blue bee!’ ‘That’s quite funny!’ (Actors: Tom Holmes and Mae Lankshear) whenever an insect flies by.
Suddenly having time to think about all the other things in life
During a run, however long that is, I have zero headspace for anything else. Even vital things like eating and sleeping often take second place to thinking about the piece I am involved in. But then when that is taken away, suddenly there is a whole lot more space for the things you didn’t want to think about before. This is a massive one for me. Post show blues almost always brings on some sort of panic about the next big change coming up in my life, or how many things I haven’t been sorting out during the run. All of a sudden I have way more time to mither and worry and overthink which is never good for my well-being!
I have spoken before about how close you become with people when you put on a show together. Whether you knew each other before or not, the rehearsal and performance process will always bring you closer because you spend so much time with these people and expose so much of yourself emotionally. At the end of the run, you probably aren’t going to see them as much as you have been. All your routines will change and you won’t have rehearsals to keep you together (at least for a while). That can feel pretty lonely and scary when you have become so close and is maybe one of the biggest causes of the blues.
So what should you do about it? Well, for me at least it’s a little bit like ‘Going on a bear hunt’ – You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you have to go through it. One of the worst things I ever did was try and persuade myself that I was ok about a run being over. I tried to put on a happy mask (for myself as well as everyone else) and told myself I wasn’t allowed to wallow in my sorrows. But that just made it worse and it meant that I suffered for longer and couldn’t move on to the next thing as easily.
I feel very hypocritical as I type this because I am so bad at remembering this when I’m not feeling great: It has to be ok to be sad sometimes. Everyone is always telling me that I can’t be happy all the time; that the best times only feel so good because others weren’t quite up there, so Post Show Blues is really just showing you how much you enjoyed that time and that it meant a lot to you – even if you didn’t realise it a the time.
Therefore, my top tip for post show blues is to embrace it and make sure that you don’t forget how fantastic it was. I like to create scrapbook pages and photo collections as keepsakes of a particular project. This isn’t for everyone but it allows me to fondly remember all the good moments and grieve (yes I do use that word) a little now that it is over. This was a scrapbook page that I created after a show I was in earlier on this year.
Lucy decided to pour her creativity into cake form the day after Theatre of Minds, so we had celebratory cupcakes that day.
Post Show Blues will be different every time, but they are never bad enough to stop me going back to the theatre for more. Who knows where the next project will be, but I’m sure that when that one is done I’ll think it was the best thing yet.
If you missed out on seeing Base Layer in July, make sure you keep an eye on the blog for details of our next performance (10/09/16) or check out the recording of the performance on Saturday 16th July here.