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The 8 Stages of Post-Show Grief

The curtain has closed, the set has been struck, and you suddenly have a lot of free time in your life. For the thespian, “post-show grief” is a chronic condition and can take anywhere from a few weeks, to a few months to overcome. You’re told the “sun will come out tomorrow,” but you just want to wallow in your memories of good-times-gone-by with cast mates, bows, applause, flowers in your dressing, and that ever addictive rush of adrenaline as you step on the stage. But the show must end, and the grieving process must begin one way or another. To help you out, we have outlined that process below to help you track your progress!

Stage 1: Denial

You wake up in a panic thinking you lost your script, or are late to rehearsal. You continue to have theatre nightmares where the stage collapses on you or something goes drastically wrong.

Stage 2: Sentimental and Sappy

You post pictures of your awesome cast and crew all over social media to show off the amazing new friendships you made. You plan reunions for your cast to spend more time together to sing karaoke to your favorite cast recordings.

Stage 3: Identity Crisis

You start an extensive search for auditions in the area to get back in the rehearsal room ASAP. Because if you’re not at rehearsal or on stage, who even are you?

Stage 4: Reliving Every Moment Of The Show

You reminisce with your friends about the show, and try to get them to join you in sing/dance-alongs.

Stage 5: Regret

You suddenly are overwhelmed with a wave of “what if”s.

“What if I made a different choice here?”

“Oh man, I wish I didn’t fall during that dance sequence.”

“That would have been so awesome if I had done something different for that scene.”

Stage 6: Depression

Some people skip right to this step and fall into a dramatic, tear-filled depression like the dramatist they are… This step is rough. Go buy some ice cream, listen to the cast recording, and wallow. But keep it in check…give yourself a few days, a week at most, and then put on your big-kid character shoes and get back out there!

Stage 7: Acceptance

You realize that while you will cherish your memories of show’s past, you need to keep moving forward and make new theatre memories.

Stage 8: You Get Cast In Another Show And The Process Starts Again

That wonderful moment when you can look forward to months filled with theatre and all of the wonderful experiences that come with being a part of a production. It’s the Circle of Life.

As Sherie Rene Scott would say, “The scary thing about theatre—it doesn’t live on… It doesn’t last. Only in people’s memories and their hearts. That’s the beauty and sadness of it. But that’s life—beauty and sadness. And that’s why theatre is life.”

Did we miss a stage that you experience? Leave a reply below…

Written by Meghan Hornbacker

Meghan is a San Francisco Bay Area native currently attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. While not onstage, backstage, directing, or choreographing, she can often be found obsessing over ice-cream and Sutton Foster. We still aren’t sure which one she loves more.

One Comment

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  1. There’s the stage that may occur at any time in the sequence. The stage called ‘Your friends tell you to get over yourself because it’s only a show, it’s not life’.

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