There is a solemnity and an emptiness that comes after the curtain closes and the lights dim out for the last time.
You’ve spent what feels like eons of minutes, hours, weeks, and months together, tightly knit and steering towards the same objective, when, suddenly, it is achieved. Bows, applause, then goodnight, realizing that it’s the last time you’ll be wrapped up together in this frenetic thing called a play.
The doors shut, the voices clatter down the hallway, and the weekend continues on, as though it never paused for this morsel of time where you told the story and heard the laughter in the seats, briefly inhabiting the lives of someone else. Costumes rehung, props laid aside, makeup rinsed away, hair unfurled from its pins. Done. Finished.
You return to the space Monday, ready to put a lid on the experience and bid adieu to the company of players, but you hesitate, because you secretly know it’s the end.
Emotions are brimming.
Hands are held tightly.
No one wants to be the first, and we know what happens when your last.
What time is it, you ask?
If you know, you know.
This is my eleventh in five years of directing, after losing four chances to COVID cancellations, and it was about dang time to reach closure with a group I’ve cherished dearly through this play and over the past three years.
When you invest as much of yourself and your time into the creative process, and you work with a group of two and a half dozen students so intently on achieving the same goal, you tend to hold tighter to them after said process reaches fruition. While this is usually a farewell address that leaves everyone sobbing and asking if we can still have rehearsal, this particular level of feels went astronomical. I could immediately tell that, after the pandemicpocalypse we’d all endured, it was time to wash clean the slate with the salt tears that have been waiting to be shed.
The thing that really sticks with me is how many of them just needed to say that they felt at home again, accepted, heard, loved. I’ve been with these kids from going on three years to to a handful and a half of months, and I cannot seem to release them back to their “regular” selves. We didn’t want to turn the page into something new, not just yet. I know I’m supposed to be the adult here and ready to start over again and again, but this batch of kindreds just needed to linger.
So we did.
When we returned to that sacred space together to continue down the rabbit hole into the culminating days, I knew that I’d witnessed a metamorphosis. I knew that I’d needed it as much as them, and that’s what makes this whole thing worth it—know that I become something new each time, right alongside those eager souls.