It’s a week before opening night. Your body and mind are exhausted. Your friends and family don’t know who you are anymore because this show has consumed your life. You are moments away from either a mental breakdown or utter joy. You’re not sure which one because you don’t know what feelings are anymore. Sound familiar?
If this phenomenon is not ringing any bells or you are not familiar with the term hell week, hell week is the week a theatre show opens, usually starting with a tech rehearsal.
Whether you are a production staff member, techie, or an actor, here are 9 things you can do to survive hell week.
- Stay Hydrated – As my choir director from Juniata College, Dr. Russell Shelley, always says, “drink until your pee is as clear as a mountain stream.” Staying hydrated cannot only boost your mood, but it can also help you stay healthy. Being hydrated can also help actors with their vocals, regardless of being in a musical or not. Hot tea with lemon and honey is also great for sore or hoarse throats.
- Meal Prep – It is always tempting to eat junk food, especially when the cast and crew provide tons of it. Your body needs healthy food to keep up your energy and your already compromised immune system. Planning out healthy meals and snacks the day before tech rehearsal can have you set for success.
- Use Immunity Boosters – If you get a tickle in your throat, immediately take Emergen-C or Airborne. If you cough once, immediately take Emergen-C or Airborne. If someone sniffles near you, immediately take Emergen-C or Airborne. You get the picture! Don’t get the show plague until the show is over.
- Live and Breathe Your Script – If your copy of the script is not attached to your body every hour you are not in the theatre, you’re doing it wrong. If you don’t know your lines, download the app LineLearner. Record your lines on the app to listen to on repeat while at work, exercising, studying, or any other waking moment you have free. Review your notes and mistakes you may have made before every night’s performance.
- Do your Laundry – Production staff need nice clothes to represent the production. Techies need extra blacks and good gloves. Make sure your shoes are steel toed and/or non-slip for the best results. Actors need clothes to change into for cast parties, greeting the public post show, or going home in comfort. Plan accordingly.
- Have Extra Paper and Pencils – Notes are coming. Be prepared to take notes post rehearsal if you are not doing so already. Having a list of notes to refer to instead of searching your script is always helpful. Pencils are best for writing to erase changes that may happen that are notated in your script.
- Sleep – With late night rehearsals, notes, and cast parties all about to wreak havoc on your body, getting sleep is vital. Get extra sleep before hell week and sleep as much as you can during hell week. Naps are your friend. In moderation, caffeine can also be your MVP.
- Schedule Some You Time – As time consuming as the show process can be, it is important to make time for yourself. If you have a pre-show ritual, enjoy meditating, need exercise, or unwind in some other way, listen to what your body and mind need. Being at your physical and emotional best is ideal. After all, the show can’t go on without you.
- Anticipate Post-show Depression – Enjoy and be present for every second of the show. If your show is done after a week or two, know that there are small things you can do right now to combat post-show depression. Schedule somethings you enjoy the week after the show closes. Make plans with friends and family. Apologize for being practically dead to them and ask what night they bought tickets for.
Happy you. Happy Hell Week. Break a leg!
By Emily Evey