Candide closed on Sunday afternoon. Normally, when a show ends, actors say good-bye, promise to keep in touch and rush off to catch a train. But this show was different. When I came down from the booth for intermission, everyone had gathered in the green room. It was as if they needed to spend every precious moment left with each other. The farewells after the performance lasted longer than most. We felt closer than a normal cast because we had all been through and created something that was larger than any one of us had done before. It was one of those times when a group of people have been through something so emotional that only those involved in it can understand it. I'm not sure what it's called or if I'm explaining it correctly. The first rule of Candide is that no one talks about Candide. Or something like that.
When I hit the go button for the last few cues, my eyes welled up. I thought back to the start of rehearsals when I couldn't remember any one's name and to tech which felt as if it would never end. But it did end, and we had a show that ran like clockwork. I never thought it would become this good or this easy a production. Yet, it did and I was a part of it. I'm not a sentimental person but I was sad at leaving it all. I had seen this show through to the end with success--and no injuries.
No actors were harmed in the making of Candide.
So saying good-bye was bittersweet. I was excited to return to my normal life at home but sad to be leaving behind the challenge of each performance. The crew and I started our strike almost immediately after the curtain went down. Well, to be honest, the crew started the strike, I wandered around saying good-bye, not willing to begin the final closure of the show.
I had to though, because everyone had left and I had no one else to talk to. So I wiped down dressing room tables and took apart body mics. It was with mixed feelings of pride, joy and sadness that I turned in my keys and left my prompt book for the production manager; I was leaving behind the last tactile vestiges of my involvement with Candide. I'll be back of course, for The Seafarer at the end of the season, but this show had affected me in much the same way it affected the actors. I didn't know how to leave it. Yet, I did leave it, in the same way I left it every night after a performance by walking out the door of theater.
And then, like every night after a performance, I went to the bar.