Post-show depression: what it is and how to deal with it

rebecca spelman post show depression

Post-show depression, also known as the “post-show blues”, often hits people like performers, directors, and anyone else who works in theatre. It makes sense- you put a lot of time and effort into a project, you experience a high during the show’s run, and then… It’s all over. In the course of one day, you go from working incessantly and receiving applause to watching Netflix for five hours because you’re not sure how else to pass the time.

Let’s talk about the causes of post-show depression, how you can work through it, and the importance of avoiding burn-out.

Why do I have post-show depression?

  • You’re not used to having free time.

Being involved in a show takes up a lot of time. You’ve spent weeks (or maybe even months!) in the rehearsal room, learning your lines and perfecting your blocking. You used to run from place to place, spending every spare moment in rehearsal. You created a schedule that allowed you to devote ten hours a week to a show- now you just have a lot of free time.

  • Your creative outlet is gone.

Whether you’re acting, dancing, directing, or working backstage, theatre allows you to dedicate time and energy to your creative work. It feels good when you work on it, and even better when you receive a round of applause for what you’ve achieved. Most people need a creative outlet, and to go from a huge project to nothing at all can be really frustrating.

  • You miss your friends.

Over the course of rehearsals, tech, and the run of a show, you spend a huge amount of time with your fellow cast and crew members. Inside jokes become more obscure, post-rehearsal drinks go longer, and you run lines together so often that everyone chimes in when you pause onstage. Working on a show together creates an intense bond, and once the show is over, it feels strange to not be together all the time.

How to get over post-show depression

  • Rest.

This is the most important step. You might feel restless and full of energy because you’ve become used to a busy schedule, but your body (and mind) will crash if you don’t take a break. Make sure you get enough sleep, allow yourself some time to just relax, and try things like meditation or mindfulness exercises to unwind after weeks of pushing yourself.

  • Keep in touch.

Working on a production is an amazing way to build friendships, but the show ending doesn’t mean your bonds have to end too! Call your former cast-mates and ask to hang out- almost everyone misses their theatre friends after a show, so they probably want to spend time together just as much as you do. This is also a great time to reconnect with your other friends, but make sure you’re not just treating them as a backup when you’re in between shows.

  • Catch up on other parts of your life.

You know that growing pile of laundry you’ve ignored for the last two weeks? This is the time to sort that out. Same goes for cleaning the house, responding to emails, calling your parents, and doing the grocery shopping. Our routines tend to become a bit of a mess when preparing for a show, so take this opportunity to get everything back on track. It’s also a great way to keep yourself busy as you re-adjust to a rehearsal-free schedule.

  • Have a creative outlet.

You need to take a break and recuperate before jumping into another demanding show, but having a creative outlet will really help you to stay fulfilled. It’ll also help with your fear of missing out, because you’re still spending time doing something you enjoy. Take this time to brush up on a skill you haven’t practiced in a while, or branch out into a different area like music or arts and crafts.

  • Plan your next project.

A great way to tackle post-show depression is to remind yourself that there’ll always be another show, if you want it. Look out for upcoming auditions or workshops, come up with a rough outline for your next script, or perfect your monologue so you’re ready to land your next dream part.

Avoiding a burn-out cycle

When you’re working on a show, it’s hard to not throw yourself in headfirst and give everything you have to the project. You want to do the best job you can, so it makes sense that you do everything you can to make that happen. Just remember that your work method needs to be sustainable. The most important thing is your health and if you work yourself too hard, you won’t be able to enjoy the process. Besides, working too hard now could mean that you’re too burnt-out to work on the next show. Remember that this isn’t just about one show, it’s about you being able to enjoy what you love for as long as you want.


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