Show week. Two words that simultaneously bring immeasurable joy and immense dread. I’ve just come off the back of a run of ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ by The Cast. It was a fantastic week. I’ve made some new friends (I hope), I was given the chance to operate some absolutely fantastic puppets, and I had bloody good fun doing it.
But now, I ache. Every muscle in my body is screaming at me, begging me to never put them through such torture again. I feel dehydrated, exhausted, and would not complain if I could just curl up in my bed and die right now. My head is home to a metaphorical workforce of tiny construction workers, smashing down the walls that make up my mind. The post show blues have kicked in hard already; a crippling depression as I finally come to terms with my loss. It feels like I’ve lost someone close to me. I’ve spent a whole week throwing all my energy and life into this show, and now it’s been ripped out from beneath my feet, sending me spiralling into a pit of emptiness. No rehearsals. No show. Nothing. I don’t know what to do with myself.
And that’s just how I feel after the show has finished. During show week I was in a constant state of lethargy. I was having difficulty concentrating at work, and I barely saw my missus. Show week is hard on our partners too. Every time show week comes around, she has to accept that I will become a useless mess. She patiently waits on me to return to normality, whilst I put the theatre before her for a week. I’m late to bed, I miss meals, I’m incredibly stressed, and in the short instances we are together, my mind is elsewhere.
So, I hear you ask, “Why on earth do you do this? Why do you put yourself through such physical and emotional torment?” Despite all the pain and fatigue, I love every second of it. The theatre is like a drug for me, and I have a constant need to feed my addiction. If I spend too long away from it I get withdrawal symptoms. Trust me when I say there is no greater feeling than the rush you receive when walking offstage after a particularly intense scene, or watching a play you’ve directed finally coming together. Some thrill seekers throw themselves out of aeroplanes to get this feeling. Theatre folk throw themselves on to the stage in front of an audience instead. It’s much safer.
Also, there are the memories. When I look back at shows I’ve done, I never remember the pain or how tired I was. I remember the good things. That joke that creased me up backstage. That friend I made whilst rehearsing a certain show. That feeling.
So, whilst I’m sat here drinking copious amounts of water and eating ibuprofen like they’re sweets, and looking back on the last week, I won’t remember it as a week of pain and suffering. I’ll remember it as one of the best weeks of my life, and the time I got to pretend I was a man-eating plant from outer space. Now then, what’s next?