Welcome to Tiny Theatre Tips, a series of brief posts sharing tips and advice for your theatre life! Enjoy!
Tiny Theatre Tips #5: Rest
I can already see my friends and family rolling their eyes and laughing at me for posting this one, because this is the tip I so frequently and blatantly ignore:
As a theatre person, you are already familiar with the late nights and long rehearsal hours that go into making a production, particularly around tech week (frequently known as hell week, but let’s not go there, shall we?). “I can’t, I have rehearsal” is always a phrase thrown about by theatre types of all sorts, because they are generally at one of three places: at home (where laundry and dirty dishes are piling up because you are never actually there for longer than an hour), at school or their day job, or, most likely, at the theatre.
It’s so easy to get swept away in the excitement of getting a show on its feet, but it’s also very easy to burn the candle at both ends and forget to take proper care of yourself. That’s why it is so important to make time to rest. Particularly because you don’t want to be a zombie at work/school, and you don’t need to make yourself sick, especially during the run of the show.
If you do get sick during rehearsals, do everyone a favour and STAY HOME. You need to not spread your germs around to the rest of the group, and your body won’t be able to truly heal up if you’re continually pushing yourself. If it’s a performance, then it will depend — if you have an understudy or an assistant, give them a call and get them on that stage or running those cues for you. But if you are *it* and people are depending on you, then you’ve got to push through and get through the performance as best you can. This is why “preventative resting” is so important!
Theatre people need to learn to not figure out how far they can push themselves before their bodies just give out. Before you get to that point, you need to just STOP, GO HOME, and REST. And not just a nap in the seats at the theatre (although I have been known to do that once in a while), but a proper eight hours of sleep in your own comfy bed. No phones, no television, no video games — just pure, simple sleep.
It can be hard to unwind after you’ve been super-energetic and hyped up at rehearsals, or wired from a great performance. Try creating a wind-down routine that helps you get in the mindset to sleep. Perhaps a warm bath or shower would help, or a mug of sleepytime tea, or some soothing music, or a lavender pillow spray. Whatever helps you get the shut-eye you need to keep you going for eight performances a week. Try not to be tempted into going out for drinks or snacks after every show or rehearsal with the rest of the cast and crew. There will always be another get-together.
Know yourself; know your limits; listen to your body and just rest.
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