Miss Valerie’s Cure for the Monday Blues

The Monday Blues is a very real part of life in the theater whether you just appeared in your elementary school production of Cinderella or just completed a tour of Wicked. Monday Blues refers to the Monday that immediately follows the final performance (or “closing weekend”) of a show’s run. Mondays are typically “dark” days in the theater. Other than sporadic fundraising events and informal play readings, it is rare to find a live theater performance taking place on a Monday no matter where you live.

Not every Monday is “blue” for theater performers. Certainly if you are a professional working actor turning in 8 shows per week (one each on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday and two each on Wednesday and Saturday), Monday is a day of joy! It is a day off from costumes, pancake make up, wigs, blinding lights and audience members accosting you as you’re trying to leave work. Monday is a chance for you to kick back and put your feet up the way the rest of us rat-racers do on Saturday and Sunday.

Mondays are especially joyful for the working actor for the simple reason that they know, come Tuesday, that they have a job to go to! As anyone who has ever been unemployed knows, your days are a little different when you don’t have a job and there are no prospects in sight. “Blue” doesn’t even begin to describe those days.

Now let’s get back to the elementary school production of Cinderella. We know that elementary school kids aren’t concerned with their next acting job, making the rent or paying union dues, but I promise you that the true thespian – no matter what age – is going to get sad and lethargic each time a production comes to a close. Think of all the time, energy and care that goes into a production. Yes, there are challenging moments, yes there will always be those times mid-way through the rehearsal process when everyone is frustrated and more than a few people who are looking forward to that final curtain call. But isn’t that true of everything we love?

My kids drive me crazy sometimes but I know I will weep the whole way home on that inevitable day when my husband and I move them into college. My husband drives me crazy but I couldn’t imagine my life without him and I wouldn’t ever attempt marriage with anyone else. I love my parents dearly – dearly – but I could never live with them ever again! Everything we love gets under our skin and causes us occasional (and at times intense) grief. I think it’s the price you pay to love something.

The Monday Blues is the kitschy name that we theater people give to the grief that we feel when a project comes to a close and we are, once again, jobless or without a fulfilling project to work on. Even if we do have another project to go to, the transition from working closely with one group of people to working with a brand new group of people – some (if not all) of whom may be complete strangers – comes with mixed feelings. We are human, we are artists, we are sensitive to our environment. It’s part of what drew us to theater in the first place. The Monday Blues is just part of the process.

So now you probably want to know what’s the cure for the Monday Blues. I’ve come up with a list of ten proactive, reasonable things that you can do to cure or at least minimize the Monday Blues. Bear in mind that the Monday Blues may carry over into Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, etc, etc, etc. It may take a while to come out of the fog and it may take even longer until the next project comes along. I tried to offer a diversity of options — different price ranges and time commitments. Start slow – try one at a time at first and see what each remedy does for you!

Top Ten Cures
  1. Sign up for a short term acting or dance class that will keep you developing your craft.
  2. Read a Pulitzer price winning play! For suggestions got to www.pulitzer.org
  3. Attend some local theater – don’t limit yourself to the expensive tours.
  4. Watch a musical on video – some of the old Rodgers and Hammerstein are fun!
  5. Go online and do a Google search for auditions in your area
  6. Get some friends together and play some improvisation games! For suggestions, see the Experiments in Theater Playbook.
  7. Read an acting book or a book about auditioning.
  8. Choose, practice and memorize a monologue. For suggestions, visit the Experiments in Theater Forum.
  9. Start a journal and write about your recent experience in the theater – what you liked, what you didn’t like, what you miss, etc.
  10. Update your resume. If you don’t already have a resume – type one up!

As always, if you have any questions or need more suggestions, please contact me through the Experiments in Theater forum.

And, remember, the Monday Blues are part of life in the theater. Don’t fight it — accept it! But don’t wallow and get stuck. Make the most of this time! Because once that next project comes along, you won’t have as much time for introspection.

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Sep 23, 2011

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