There is no goodbye like the goodbye at the end of a theatrical production. In the space of a few intense months, a group of strangers and acquaintances and friends comes together to create something moving and human. In the process, if things go right, you become a family. It’s hard to say goodbye to a family.
We gave our last performance of Much Ado About Nothing this past weekend. It has been hard to say goodbye. This has been a particularly fantastic cast and crew to work with, which makes the goodbyes all the harder.
I’m sure there are other fields of short, intense projects where bonds form quickly before the various participants go their separate ways. What makes theater truly unique is that we don’t only have to say goodbye to our fellow actors and crew – we have to say goodbye to our characters.
On Saturday night I shaved off the Guy Fawkes-ian facial hair that I’d grown out since February. Yesterday I wiped off all my temporary tattoos. This morning I got a haircut for the first time in months. I’m letting go of Borachio, a character I’ve come to know and love despite his villainy.
I’ll probably work with many of my cast-mates again in future productions, but they won’t play the same characters. In this play in particular, I was inspired and challenged by the way that each actor brought more depth and personality to their character at every rehearsal. I’ve had to bid a final farewell to Dave as Benedick, to Annalise as Beatrice, to Julia as Neighborhood Watchman 1 – all real characters, with quirks and personalities called up from somewhere inside their portrayers. I’ll miss them.
In the meantime, there will be comings and goings, goodbyes and hellos. Right now, I’m feeling sad to say goodbye to my theater family. If and when several of us work together again it will be under different circumstances. But this is a hopeful thing too. I’m excited to see what new and beautiful thing we can create together in the future, whenever we do meet again.