Tuesday, June 16, 2009


One of the unfortunate realities of theatre is that unless you are The Phantom of the Opera, the show you are in will at some point have to close. This means that the theatre has to be prepared for the next production and in the process the old show has to be cleared away. This process is called strike. In the case of Phantom, there will be a small army of stage hands hired to take apart the set, take down the lights, and cart away all the costumes and props to some warehouse. For the majority of us, strike is carried our by those who participated in the show.

While many hands make light work, strike is often optional to the actors in a show. Many actors stay away from strike for many different reasons. They are tired having just come off a series of performances no matter how long or short and would like to have some time to themselves. Sometimes, the actor is already in rehearsal for his or her next project and is unavailable for strike. Often, the actor is too emotionally attached to the production to see the whole thing be taken apart before their eyes.

I, on the other hand, find it therapeutic. I need the time to undo the work with my own hands. To sweep up the remnants of the production rather than having it end abruptly; it's part of the process of letting go. There is so much invested in any production: time, talent, hard work, and often money. I find it hard to move on to the next project unless I really take the time to put the show to bed and reflect on the parts that went into it.

But no matter whether you choose to participate in strike or now, it happens. And soon after the theatre is cleared our, a new production will begin loading in. It's easy to attribute this to progress or "the circle of life." But it really is the essence of this art that we create. It is forever changing and malleable. It is what happens in the here and now in front of the audience. Strike is a large part of that experience and theatre is always the better for it.

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