Doing a show, especially in the provinces* puts you in the middle of a strange sort of micro-cosmos. You ship some boxes, hop on a plane and are suddenly for six plus weeks (depending on the contract) living and working with a bunch of strangers in a city you likely know nothing about in a more or less questionable living situation (large rodents in my walls? Bring it.). The nature of the work, the fact that you have no one else to hang out with, and the general openness of the “actor personality” means you all become fast friends. So you work and play with these people, knowing that the time you have is finite. Around two weeks from closing, everyone will start to talk about how strange it is that we will soon be back in NYC, no longer a company together. Then the show will close and you will all go home with your health weeks and a few more Facebook friends. If you’ve done this before you won’t promise to stay in touch because you know it’s too hard. You’ll run into each other at auditions, maybe go to someone’s birthday party, but that will be about it. You’ll forget your lines (if you haven’t done so already), the inside jokes with your cast, the backstage rituals. You’ll audition. You’ll book some other job, and you’ll do it all again. But that show, those folks, that time in that town will always be a little bit special to you. You’ll carry them with you as part of your ever- growing community—your tribe of crazy, zany, giving, actors, your tribe of artists— and they will remind you of why you put up with this stupid business.
This one felt especially bittersweet for me as it might be the last of these regional gigs I will be able to do for a while. From the very beginning I felt hyper aware of the transience of it all—the layers and layers of impermanence. And though that awareness of course comes with sadness, it also feels right. Perhaps because it underscores the ephemerality that is inherent to theater. That element of the human experience that theater echoes more deeply than perhaps any other art form. The show will end. Whether you are a spectator and it’s over in two hours, or a company member and the run lasts two years, it can only be there and then gone.
Thanks to all my FST friends for a lovely run.
*Fine, regional theatre, get off my case.