Performance Cancellations: Your Grief is Valid

It’s hard to escape news and social media feeds saturated with news and reactions to COVID-19. Every day the number of infected and dead increases. With that being said, you may feel guilty for grieving your cancelled high school, college, or community theatre production. Don’t. While it’s important to have empathy for others, that doesn’t invalidate your feelings.

In times of peril, we as humans feel a lot. Personally, I’m scared for my immune compromised friends and family. I’m angry at the federal government for their sluggish reaction. I’m disappointed I won’t be seeing my coworkers for awhile. And even though things could always be worse, my feelings are still valid and so are yours.

Many people outside the industry do not understand what goes into a theatrical production. They see the finished product, but not so much the work and passion that goes into it. The other night I saw a video of a young woman who is a senior in high school. She was preparing to star as Belle in her school’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” in two weeks. Now, with the production cancelled, she doesn’t know if she will ever get the opportunity to play the role again. For these students, their months of hard work lay by the wayside.

My point is not to claim that a student’s cancelled extracurricular activities equate to the distress caused by sickness or loss of life. I also do not mean to downplay the loss of income and benefits professional performers and anyone else in the industry are dealing with. However, we all should be able to grieve what we’ve lost without judgement.

Studies show that bottling up emotions actually make them stronger.

Experts recommend 4 steps to cope with your emotions in a healthy manner:

  1. Acknowledge the Emotion
  2. Confront the Cause
  3. Owning Your Response
  4. Making Time for Self-Care

Specifically, if you are upset over a cancelled production, even sharing a homebound performance on social media can be cathartic. While you should not convene with your cast in person, consider setting up a gathering on Zoom for a reading/sing-through of your play or musical. Here at Long Island Theatre Scene, we would be happy to share any of your content on our social media pages.

All in all, the beautiful part of theatre is that it allows us to get in touch with our emotions. We may be isolated right now, but don’t let that stop you from doing what you love.

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