Post-Show Blues

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.

Danielle Bannister, Author and sometimes actor


Another opening, another show…

It’s that time again. Time to put on another show! Outside of my family, I have two major passions. Writing and theatre. For me, the two work hand in hand. When I’m writing, I see actors in my mind, performing the lines I’m writing. I can see their faces crumple in pain when I deliver a crushing blow or see their faces light up when I’ve made their wish come true. Writing, for me, is acting, without that pesky line learning bit. (I get editing instead. Not sure which is worse.)

The last show of the year for me is a great little one-act play called The Humans. It’s by a brilliant playwright Stephen Karam. The Humans was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Play. It’s that good. I’ve never read a play quite like it, to be honest. It reads like real life. It’s effortless how it unfolds, and yet has so many layers to it that it would take multiple viewings to truly get it all. I play a character named Brigid, a recent college graduate trying to break into the musical composing scene in the Big Apple. She’s just moved into a new place with her older boyfriend, and they host Thanksgiving for her parents, sister, and grandmother. Ah…family gatherings. Always blessing…and a curse. Ha.

It’s six characters in a non-stop ride. There are no scene changes, no blackouts, no moments for the actors to get out of the moment, which is both exciting and exhausting. The show runs the range of emotions, laughter, tears, and all the good feels.

What I find interesting, is that the playwright started out writing a thriller, then, the longer he wrote, he realized what he was writing was a family piece about how people deal with fear. In fact, there is an opening quote in the introduction to the play from Napoleon Hill from his book Think and Grow Rich that says:

“There are six basic fears, with some combination of which every human suffers at one time or another…

The fear of poverty

The fear of criticism

The fear of Ill health

The fear of loss of love of someone

The fear of old age

The fear of death.”

Six fears. Six actors. Each character represents a fear. How do we, as humans, deal with them? The play touches on a lot of the coping mechanisms we use to put off coming head to head with that anxiety: emotional eating, sarcasm, deflection, humor… Who would have thought that a family play that takes place during a Thanksgiving meal could reveal so much about being human? Stephen Karam. That’s who.

If you’d like to see a few promotional videos our producer put together, you can find them here.

Video 1 -Momo

Video 2-Rich & Brigid

Video 3 -Brigid & Aimee

Video 4-Set

And if you are local and wanna come see this show, performed by a stellar cast, you can visit for more info.

Danielle Bannister, author, and sometimes actor

Theatre, writing

Where did Summer go?

Seriously? Like, I blinked and POOF, summer is GONE. Typically, I spend my summers writing all the words as I have a small break from the day job then, but alas, I foolishly agreed to be the Stage-manager of a musical here in my small coastal town and well, let’s just say stage-managing is really a full-time job. Writing did NOT get done.

It was worth it though. I got to see my son performing in a lead (Jack in Into the Woods) singing a solo (with some challenging notes to hit) in and among a cast of super talented adults and youth.

My daughter worked the stage crew with me as she had just gotten done performing a leading role of her own at another theater. She was Mary in Secret Garden, the Musical. She even had her face on the poster!

So between running to two different rehearsals (and help running a theatre camp during some of the hottest days of the summer), my writing days evaporated before my eyes.

Last day of camp. We’re smiling, but man, are we TIRED!

BUT, the good news is that the kids are back in school, and even though I’m also back at the day job, I am also able to settle back into my normal writing routine. I’ve mapped out my releases for the next two years, now all that I need to do is write them.

Easy peasy. Ha!


Another Opening, Another Show…

Well, it’s Opening Night for me. Again. Such is the life of a theatre geek. Tonight we open a complex show called…

I play the mother of an autistic boy as a broken family tries to find its own rhythm in the chaos. “The play is based on 2003 novel by Mark Haddon, and adapted by Simon Stephens, THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME follows the story of Christopher Boone, a 15-year old math savant who talks in loud declamatory sentences, doesn’t do chat, and can’t stand to be touched. When he discovers one night that his neighbor’s dog has been murdered, Christopher sets out to solve the crime, embarking on an exciting journey that will change his world forever. It won five Tony Awards in 2015, including Best Play.

Robbie Carroll takes on the lead role of Christopher Boone. Giz Coughlin plays his beloved teacher Siobhan. Christopher’s parents, Judy and Ed, are played by Danielle Bannister and Jason Bannister. Rounding out the cast are Eric Sanders, Peter Conant, Beverly Mann, Monicque Deschamps, and Sarah Joy, who each take on multiple roles. Suzanne Ramczyk directs the production. Performances run April 26-May 5 at the The Crosby Center in Belfast.”

For those who won’t get a chance to see it (and heck, even if you do) here are a few shots to share!

This is a shot of the stage, which you can’t quite tell, but there is a rake (incline) which means we actors have to act on a small hill essentially. This is done because the audience chairs are on a flat floor. One of the two needs to be at an angle for the best sight lines so, they built the set to go in a rake. Talk about a LOT of work. This massive beast was put up in one day! There is a steeper upper rake in the back which is oh so scary to be on. There are two projection screens as well on either sides of the stage. No small feat.

A view from the back.
This shows the rake a little better from the actors perspective.
Look, Mom. No hands!

This is an emotional rollercoaster and an out of the box type of production. If you’re in the Waldo County, Maine Area, you should come see it! You can find out more at

Now I’m off to go run those lines one last time…


Is He Dead???

No. I won’t tell you the answer to that. If you want to know, you’ll have to come see the play. Hehe.

When my nose isn’t buried in a keyboard creating new characters, I’m stepping into the shoes of other people’s characters. The stage was my safe haven before the page. The one thing I wanted to do more than anything. I wanted to be a Broadway star. Then life happened. And kids. Haha.

This August, in the middle of two books getting ready to go to editors, I decided it would be a GREAT idea to be in a play. Mercifully, my part is small, only about 90 lines to cram into my noggin.

The theatre I’m working with (The Belfast Maskers) has just purchased a new building to house their shows, so in addition to learning lines and blocking, we’re working with a stage being built around us. Exciting stuff!

The show is by Mark Twain believe it or not! It was polished up by the comedically brilliant David Ives. The hardest part of this show for me (aside from perfecting a French accent) is going to be keeping a straight face. So many funny one-liners and situations. If you’re local, this one will be worth your time. Seriously funny stuff.


Danielle Bannister, author and sometimes actor