I worked really hard on this production. Rewriting, arranging the rehearsal spaces, getting the props, marketing, website, advertising. I was early submitting the press releases, had my poster and playbills at the ready, paid a hefty sum to Facebook to get our name out there, contacted a reporter at The Everett Herald, Gale Fiege, who graciously covered our show a week prior to curtain. I went out of my comfort zone and networked and spoke with confidence of the little forgotten show that was guaranteed to make you laugh.
I drove around for a week with the entire set (sans flats and bench) in my car and we calmly and expeditiously loaded in (and out) the entire set for every single performance. We had a tremendous audience response, in fact the audience rated our show a 4.795 out of 5. That’s pretty freakin’ awesome, if you ask me. People liked the script, they showered us in compliments and we got the satisfaction of making people laugh.
The show closed on Sunday and I was happy. By Monday I was deeply depressed.
I’m not sure what I expected. Was I expecting to see a man in a trench coat, face hidden in shadow by his fedora, smoking a large cigar in the alley; a man who had just seen our show and was now driven to bring it to Broadway? Cuz that didn’t happen. Was I expecting to make a connection that would ensure my seat in the Seattle theatre scene? Or possibly have magical-I-don’t-know-where-that-came-from confetti rain down from the sky during our final bow? A choir of angels, perhaps? Should I be dining at the White House? What the fuck did I expect would happen?
I equate this to my big dream as a child. I would pray that my mom, waiting until I fell asleep, would sneak into my room and place a cage on my dresser. I would awaken and rush to the dresser, peaking inside the cage to find the most adorable hamster that I would care for and love and play with and it would become my best friend. But every day I woke up to an empty dresser. Daily I was disappointed that she hadn’t given me my magical hamster. Of course, at no point in time did I actually convey my wish to my mom, I just figured she would know.
Ironically, I recently told her about this dream while we were wine tasting. She turned to me with a very straight face and said, “You shouldn’t have told me that.” A week later I awoke to my daughters’ laughter, as they and my mom were standing at the foot of my bed. My youngest’s hands were outstretched with a little black hamster. “Welcome to your nightmare!”, I believe, were my mom’s words. Thus I’m stuck with an adorable little black hamster, whose name is Nightmare. My dream came true. It wasn’t nearly as fantastic as I’d imagined…but the hamster is pretty cute.
Is this the same scenario? Me building up an impossible outcome in my mind? I work myself up to the possibility of achieving such an outlandish result that I am destined to be nothing short of disappointed?
The process of staging this production was magic from beginning to end. I was swimming in a saturated satisfaction each and every time I rehearsed. I met great people, with zero drama (except the intended kind) and made people laugh. That should be the ONLY thing I care about. Yet I sat depressed, wallowing in my self-created pity.
That one sane part of my brain that is always perched high above the others watched the rest of my brain go down into the darkness. It yelled, “Snap out of it!”. But, as is the case normally with bad behavior, the rest of my brain won over and ruined what could have been a glorious week.
What does this teach me? How can I lessen my expectations without lessening my dreams? I DO want the jackpot. I want to make not tens of people laugh, but hundreds, even thousands. I want to reach for the stars. How can I feel so good without feeling so bad?
Or – is this a normal part of the process? With every goal that is achieved is there a negativity pre-ordained? Is it the yin / yang of success where there must be a segment of depression living within a larger part of happiness? Perhaps it is the normal evolution of creation. Perhaps, if I continue to stage productions full circle, this will be an accepted and expected response to the closing of a show. The curtain will go down and the depression will go up – but self-acknowledged that it will only last for a short amount of time and then will go away. Maybe disappointment is an integral part of the creative process. Maybe it is necessary to push us through to the next endeavor. Maybe it is the catalyst to improve; to drive us toward a better outcome.
I’m currently on day 8 post-show and I’m feeling good. I’m feeling hopeful again. And I’m starting to dream.