Take a final bow: Theater students cope with the closing of shows

Photo courtesy of Felix Mooneeram (Unsplash.com)

Thomas Moran | Arts and Life Editor

With many things in life, hard work pays off with some sort of reward. However, not all rewards are tangible or last as long as others. In the world of theater, casts and crews pour their hearts into shows for months with only a few showings to commemorate their hard work. When the curtain closes for the final time on the show, it can only take a few minutes to tear down the set, store the costumes and erase any signs showing the production ever happened in the first place.

Washington, D.C., senior Hanna Rose Hunt started participating in theater from a very young age. Her passion for theater only grew as she aged and she decided to pursue it as her profession once in high school, Hunt said.

“I did a lot of extracurriculars, and I realized that theater just gave me this high that I couldn’t get anywhere else,” Hunt said. “It was so exciting to put myself into someone else’s life.”

However, despite years and years of theater experience, the sting of breaking down a set and saying goodbye to a role has never stopped hurting, Hunt said.

Unlike many other theater groups, the different elements of putting together a show are not independent from one another. It’s not unusual for cast members to put in hours of work to help build the set, compose costumes and more, Hunt said.

“At Baylor, we do it all ourselves,” Hunt said. “The costumes, the sets, we build it all ourselves. So, we are more attached to it than if someone did it for us.”

With other forms of performance art, projects can be preserved with recordings. However, many theater shows have licenses and restrictions that prevent theaters from recording performances.

“That’s the thing about live theater,” Hunt said. “It’s not like film where you can have it forever and replay it and replay it and replay it. Once you do it and you’re done with it, you’re done with it and that’s it. There’s pros and cons. The pro is that it becomes this amazing memory you have that will never be altered in your mind. No one else can understand other than you and the other people that worked on the project, which is cool because it’s a bonding experience.”

Houston senior Nicole Johnson took part in the most recent Baylor Theatre production, “Peter and the Starcatcher.” Being a part of the show became an integral part of her day to day life, Johnson said.

“It’s such a magical and fun show, and on top of that, the cast was amazing,” Johnson said. “We just all bonded really well and had a really good time together every single day. It was pretty much the best experience ever.”

Having had such a positive experience with the show and the case, moving on wasn’t easy, Johnson said.

“It’s really sad,” Johnson said. “We always have this joke about post-show blues or post-show depression, and it’s real. You know we spent from before Thanksgiving until February living with the show. For it to all of the sudden be gone, it feels like your missing a part of your day, a part of something that you feel you’ve grown so close to.”

Everyone has a different way of coping with the “post-show blues.” Hunt gave small gifts and notes to all of her cast mates when Baylor Theatre’s rendition of “Romeo and Juliet” came to a close. Johnson said she gives herself a day off from school the day after a show ends.

Fortunately for Johnson, she didn’t have too much time to dwell on her “post-show blues” because she immediately hopped into a new production, Baylor Theatre’s next show, “Mnemonic.”

“It’s definitely something that’s really hard to part from,” Johnson said. “But we just have to hold on to the happy memory of how important the show was in forming us as artists and as people.”