Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Theatre Stress

So, you have an interest in Community, Professional or Alternative Theatre. You may have a full-time, part-time job or even no job. You may still be in public school or high school or maybe even College or University. You might live with a husband, kids or you might live with your parents or on your own. Maybe you volunteer at a home, with a festival or special events.
Now, let's see how we're going to balance these AND theatre.
Rehearsals in Community Theatre usually last three months from the first read-thru to opening night. Out of seven days every week for those three months, there are usually rehearsals 3-4 evenings and often an afternoon rehearsal on the Saturday or Sunday.
SO, hopefully  we are in a  job that we can book the time off ahead of time for evening rehearsals and that management is understanding of our needs.
Let's assume that your place of work (or school and after school activities) have been lenient enough to give you the evening AND weekend time off that you require to attend rehearsals. Now you're rehearsing Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons. You're working (or attending school activities) Wednesday and Friday evenings and most likely Saturday during the day. This leaves you the time between work (or school) and rehearsals to spend with your family, clean the house and/or cook - that is unless you have someone else who can help you out in those departments.
So far so good. You work (or attend school) Monday and Tuesday during the day and attend rehearsal in the evening.
Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, you work (or attend school) during the day giving you the evening to either work or spend at home with your family or friends.
This leaves Sunday mornings free to spend with the family, maybe even enjoy warm breakfast (assuming you're not called into work for the morning shift). It leaves the afternoon free to attend rehearsals and the evenings open to enjoy dinner. Hopefully.
We are on a roll! We are on fire and so far everything is fitting nicely into place like a puzzle. Nothing is over-lapping. Everyone is happy. Your family is getting their time with you and you're not missing any shifts at work (or practices at school). Your director is happy, your family is happy and your boss (or teacher) is happy.
Now, since everything is working so well, you do the unthinkable.
You audition for another play...and you get the part.
So now, because you just couldn't help yourself, this is what your schedule turns into:
Monday and Tuesday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:45 and rehearsal from 6:30-10pm
Wednesday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:30 and rehearsal from 6:30-10pm
Thursday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:45 and rehearsal from 6:30-10pm
Friday: work/school from 9-5, dinner/snack 5-5:45 and rehearsals from 6:30-10pm
Saturday: work/school stuff from 9-2, lunch/snack 2-2:45, rehearsal from 3-7pm and the evening to chill
Sunday: work/school stuff from 9-2, lunch/snack 2-2:45, rehearsal from 4-8pm and the evening to chill.
At this point, your schedule is slightly hectic and maybe the stress is starting to be felt.
But, we're not done yet.
I've left out the little fact that you don't drive, because you can't afford wheels, so you take the bus and it takes you anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour to get to any place in London, Ontario because we ALL know how effective the transit system is in this city.
I also left out that you don't only attend school and have projects, exams and homework BUT you also work 2 part-time jobs because in this economy, no one can get enough hours at only one job AND with 2 jobs you're guarunteed to have at least 1 job when either place of employment decides to "let you go" because your position is "no longer required with the company".
We can only hope that nothing "comes up" in our work or private lives like a surprise visit from the in-laws, a broken arm, buses running late (because that never happens) or a call from work asking you to come in to cover someone's shift. AH!
So yes, theatre can be stressful BUT it is not the time at rehearsals or the time needed to be put aside to memorize your lines. The stress comes from life around rehearsals. Theatre is a world all on it's own and as long as you dedicate enough time for loved ones, time to love and be loved, time to relax, breathe, eat and sleep - the rewards of theatre will be endless. The payback of hearing the applause of an audience or seeing a standing ovation after a performance makes the journey you took to get there, and the stress you endured simply dissapear.
The stress is similar to the situation of a woman who went through the hours of pain and heavy breathing during labour screaming their head off and calling the nurses and their spouse every bad word known to man, only to be handed their child and be so overwhelmed with joy that they istantly forget all the pain they went through to get there.
Remember: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" ;)
It's worth it.