I’m going to put this right here – CAVEAT: I’m only a three show veteran so I’m no expert. Your mileage may vary.
Today is the first real day after the seventeen performance run of Mary Poppins, and I’m firmly in the grips of what is known in theatre circles as “Post Show Depression” or PSD. The Urban Dictionary defines PSD as:
The feeling after a musical is over and you realize you have no life. After putting months into making a show perfect it is all over. It is a feeling of emptiness and sadness. Usually during the finale is when this begins. It can continue from then till weeks or months after the shows finished. You get little pangs when you see something that reminds you of the musical or when you’re sitting at home on a night when you would usually be performing or rehearsing. This depression is generally shared by most of the cast and the last show and cast party generally involves a lot of hugging, crying and beautiful parting words. When you run into one of your show family after this depression it usually involves a lot of hugging and crying and comes back for another couple of days. The only way to fully recover is to go head on into another project and remember all the good memories. It is a bittersweet feeling. It is only really understood by fellow theatre dorks.
It really is a thing. Where you almost compulsively hit Facebook to read all the cast and crew status updates, and view (and re-view) the cast photos, to re-read all the comments you received in the theatre program. Post Show Depression is a grieving process, a period of coming to terms with the face that the months of rehearsal time and weeks of performance time are now over. It’s a time to start to miss the times you shared with your fellow cast-mates, with no-one to share those in-jokes or backstage shenanigans with.
Post Show Depression starts at different times for different people. During the last few days of Mary Poppins, the Facebook grieving posts started, becoming the catalyst for others to start their grieving process, and then the snowball just kept growing. It wasn’t helped by the delivery of the professional photo DVD arriving – finally getting to see what the show looked like to the audience, and the realisation hitting that it was all really coming to an end.
So yes, I’m struggling a little. Missing the in-jokes, the chats in the green room, the meals shared between shows. Most of all, I’m missing the people, those crazy, eccentric, larger-than-life people who take joy and pride in being able to bring an audience to tears and laughter, to sadness and joy. Who revel in the applause that is their due for the labour of rehearsal, practice and performance.
Here’s to the next show, whatever it may be. To making new friends, and to working further with old ones.