If you’ve followed me for a while, you know that I am not only a counsellor, but also a theatre teacher. This is my passion subject and I love teaching theatre and I LOVE directing our musical every year!
Now, I promise you, if you make it to the end of this article, you’ll find relevance, even if you don’t know your stage right from stage left! This article is not for theatre teachers alone! This is for you, too!
All teachers are under tremendous amounts of pressure to meet deadlines, learning goals, and balance the needs of a diverse group. But one thing I always say about musical theatre in particular, is that it has a VERY public final exam… As in, hundreds of people watching our production who are all armchair experts in the world of theatre, and who feel it appropriate to make suggestions.
Some comments I’ve received in the past:
“It was good, but you know the sound quality was awful.”
This while I was working with two broken speakers, left a $2500 deficit in my budget my first year, and no money for adequate rentals or any support for any tech…
“I liked it, but I couldn’t hear all of the kids”
This while I rented 10 headsets, that ate up 90% of my already small budget, and did my best to make sure my ensemble could be heard by hanging condensers.
“The kids were good, but some of them were really off key and could have used more vocal coaching”
Huh… not sure what else I need to say about this. These are KIDS, many of whom cannot afford personal vocal coaching, so all they get is the work from our programs.
This is just a sample of the criticism I’ve received since starting musical 5 years ago.
So with all of this external pressure, you can imagine the build up as we approach a show! The kids are exhausted, with long evening rehearsals and tech week, PLUS having to complete all of their assignments for their in-time-table classes!
I am exhausted, with running around picking up rentals, repairing and picking up props, final touches on set design, etc., not to mention the late night rehearsals and tech week (and my other classes)…
By the time it comes to show week, we know we are as ready as we’re going to be, and we are collectively ITCHING to get this show on the road! We keep talking about the final push, and getting through it, and how we’ll be done soon and we can have lives outside the theatre again, and we rejoice at the prospect of starting other projects and seeing our families and having a weekend…
And then the show closes… And we’re left with this feeling of accomplishment, relief, rest and… emptiness. Ultimately, we’re left with this overwhelming feeling of loss and grief at this project that we collectively treasured and poured blood, sweat, and tears into, being over. This is a heavy reality and can lead to a lot of students feeling increased experiences of anxiety, depression, and worst of all, disconnection.
But is this feeling unique to theatre? No, it’s not… The post-show blues can happen in any class that has a deep and meaningful connection. In fact, I experience it every year after my senior theatre class is over too, and sometimes even my English classes! Though the post-show blues are uncomfortable, they are an indicator that something great has happened!
Do I have a clear answer for how to combat this? No… I wish I did! But here’s what I’m doing in the meantime to make sure my students who need it still feel connected and have a safe space to be.
Keep theatre meeting days consistent, even if it’s just a games day, we watch a movie, or we talk.
This likely isn’t possible in your regular classroom, but you can still have a lunchtime available each week! This will start to trickle out as students make new connections, but it’ll lessen the blow of the abrupt ending.
Be at the school during lunch as often as possible to support one to one students who need someone to talk to or need a place to be.
Get excited talking about next year’s show or next year’s classes! Grade 12’s can also be excited about next year, and know that you’re here to listen to their graduated experience!
Overall, the post-show blues can happen to anyone, and our most vulnerable kids are also most susceptible to these experiences. If you’ve read my post on attachment theory, you’ll understand why this sense of grief and loss can feel so extreme!
What are your suggestions for maintaining connection and lessening post-show blues?!