If you have ever performed in theatre, dance, music or other performance art, you know that it takes months of rehearsals, grueling hours, and lots of mental strain. Often times, performers do it for little to no pay, too. The love of transporting an audience member to another emotional space (and the applause) is usually enough to make the days spent rehearsing worth it.
Obviously, not every show is enjoyable. Sometimes you dread rehearsals or the cast just doesn’t seem to gel and closing night can’t come soon enough. But there are other shows…the ones where bonds are quickly established. Trust is given fully, the script is solid, the performers bring their ‘A’ game, and the audience ‘gets’ it. Those shows? Those are the ones you leave strike with a feeling of loss.
The last play I was in, The Humans was one such show. I’ll admit when I read the script, it was hard to follow. There was so much overlapping of people’s lines, and just so many lines that it was a beast to learn.
324 cue lines and a page of the script. Where there is a / that is the actor’s cue to say their line. So for instance, on my “All right, let’s just, let’s show Rich how badly our voices blend,/…I still have more to say, but at that point, both actors playing Richard and Aimiee have a line so there are three voices talking at once. It makes it hard to hear, but it also makes it honest, because that’s how people talk. We overlap each other. We all have our own agendas as it were.
The play made it’s Maine premiere after coming off a Tony Award-winning performance on Broadway. It is a brilliantly layered script, with a two-story set (not easy to pull off in a community theatre, let me tell you…the ceilings aren’t that tall. Which is why the director needed short actors. Not even joking) and a full Thanksgiving meal for each night. That gets pricey people. We had a budget of $200 for props and 90% of that budget went to food. I won’t miss eating cold potatoes, but cold stuffing isn’t so bad.
It’s a play about a family. A mom and dad, their two daughters, Aimee and Brigid, Brigid’s boyfriend, Rich, and their grandmother, Momo. It is a show that dives deep into family dynamics, the good and the bad. The joy of being with family at the holidays AND the stress it brings. In essence, it is a very HUMAN show.
By the end of the show, the cast felt like…well, family. Which is why there is such a hangover. You will see the actors again, sure, in other shows, but it won’t be the same. It won’t be that same group. And that is what you lament. That moment in time that seemed to pass so quickly.
I’ve written about this before, When the Curtain Goes Down, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but theatre can give you a hangover, in the same way as a good book can. You can be riding a high for so long and then…it’s gone. The only cure, I’m afraid, is doing another show. Good thing auditions are just around the corner.