The healing process begins with the last curtain call. Cry. Hug your other actors. Get out of your costume for the last time, but be so attached to it that you buy it from the company. You’re sure you’ll find some reason to wear a tutu.
Strike the set. If you are handy, grab a power tool and go to town on those screws. Don’t think about the fact that you are dismantling two months of hard work, sweat and planning in a matter of minutes. Just get those screws outta there. If you are less handy (ahem, me) do whatever menial tasks help strike to move along but still make you feel kind of useless. Pick up screws. Fold curtains. Clean the dressing room. Steal someone else’s power tool for a few minutes and go to town on those screws yourself. Feel important for two minutes.
Hug everyone. Tell them how much you’ve enjoyed working with them. Mean it.
Go to a cast party. Take a shot of whiskey with your favorite cast members. Sing with them. Light up a bonfire and watch the night go up in smoke. Soak up the last moments that this entire group of people will be together for a common purpose. Sure, you may have made some new friends who you will stay in touch with. Maybe you’ll work with some of these people again, or run into them at auditions. It will always be congenial, it will always be a pleasant surprise, but it will never be like this. Never again. This is the last time, so enjoy it. Finally get to kiss your showmance-crush, but know that nothing will come of it. Its not the beginning of a relationship, but rather the closing of one. A release of tension building up from quiet moments in the dark backstage.
Keep drinking beer. Don’t go home yet. Yes you have work in the morning but you’ve been hung over before right? Tell yourself you’ll drink coffee. Sing more songs. Talk shit about that one person you thought was annoying. As a group, analyze every moment of the show and how it could have been different, but be glad it wasn’t.
Wake up the next morning hung over and reeking of smoke. Shower. Go to work and pretend you aren’t hung over. Be so tired you can’t think straight. Be so tired that you don’t think about what you’ve lost.
Let a couple of days go by, enjoy you’re new freedom. Go grocery shopping for the first time in 3 weeks. Do a proper work out because you actually have the time. Call your non-theatre friends and catch up over dinner. When someone asks about your plans for Friday evening, start to say you have a performance, then remember you don’t.
Realize for the first time that it is truly over. That the thing you created together will never be seen ever again. Not in the same way. Not with the same people. Miss your castmates. Miss that person you talked shit about, and feel bad because you really did like them. Wish you were putting on your make up and laughing backstage. Run your lines in your head out of habit. That night have a dream that you are running late for your call time, or that you are out on stage and forgot your lines, or are wearing the wrong costume. Wake up and remind yourself it’s over, and you can go back to sleep.
Dedicated to the cast and crew of Red Hamlet.