THE POST-PRODUCTION BABY BLUES
Call it the “Post-Production Baby Blues.” After months of sleepless nights, expanding waistlines, and relentless heartburn, you’ve finally delivered. You’re one of the lucky ones whose musical or play has been fully produced! Someone believed enough in your work to help breathe life into it and hold your hand while you sweated and cursed. Congratulations…here’s your cigar. But after the lights come down and the reviews are in, what then? The producer hands you your darling bundle, all needy and helpless, but no one told you how to take care of the damn thing.
After the highs come the inevitable lows, when it suddenly dawns on you this little baby depends on you for its survival. Yes, you; the one still moody and irritable and prone to fits of anxiety. But there’s no time to wallow. You may be getting more sleep, but your baby may be starting to sleep through the night too…which in this case isn’t exactly welcome news. Remember how hard it was to bring this wonderful creation into the world? Now you have to teach it how to walk until it can stand on its own, then finally start to run and earn its keep.
That’s a lot of pressure for artists who already straddle the fence between diffidence and narcissism. As creative types we know our roles well; in order to thrive and self-promote we humble-brag our way into the Twittersphere while teaching a Master Class in self-doubt, all followed up with a chaser of crushing self-defeat as the next rejection letters arrive. But none of this makes us expert stewards for our creations. We need focus! Momentum! Action!
But who’s got energy for action when you’re still recovering from labor? Where’s the pithy handbook for what to do to get your show to its next production? There’s no “What To Expect When Your Show Closes” guide that details all the joys and foibles of a premiere production, complete with helpful illustrations on the best way to woo an overburdened literary manager - who’s likely recovering from their own traumatic birth story.
So you were given the gift of production and now it’s complete. There’s a lot to be grateful for and plenty to feel blue about. This is a writer’s truth, and we can only assume that other writers feel that same subtle let down, that heavy sigh of contentment and slight sadness on the heels of a closing night. The baby arrived and was proudly introduced to a beautiful world ready to embrace it. Now comes the hard part no one ever tells you about; cover letters and queries, relentless research, packages and postage, rejection, or even worse, silence.
And so, we take a deep breath, look ahead with renewed energy… and wait for selective amnesia to set in. As new parents we have an amazing capacity to forget the pain and struggle and decide to do it all over again. After all, our show baby needs a little brother or sister.