Green Shirt Studio

How to Take Care of Yourself During the Run of a Show


An actor’s life is always hectic, but there’s no time that’s more stressful than when you’re in the midst of the run of a show. Even if you only have a small part in the production, being in a run of a show requires long hours at the theater every night for weeks of rehearsals, plus the grueling schedule of the performances themselves.

And if you’re not careful, you can easily find yourself sick, burnt out and mentally exhausted.

So, if you are lucky enough to be cast in a play this winter, here are some of the most important things you can do to take care of yourself during the run of a show:

Plan ahead

Getting cast in a show can be very exciting, but just remember that as soon as you agree to do it, you are basically agreeing to put your life on hold for two to three months. During rehearsals, you’ll be at the theater almost every weeknight for four to six weeks, and then once the show is up, you’ll most likely be performing at least three or four times over the weekends. And if you’re still working a day job during all of this, you’ll quickly realize that you have almost no free time left.

That’s why it’s important to plan ahead. As soon as you find out that you’ve been cast, take a trip to Target or Costco and stock up on everything from laundry detergent to shampoo so you won’t have to do unnecessary errands during the run of the show. Also book any doctor’s appointments, oil changes, family visits, etc. before the show begins to clear your schedule up.

  • Strip back your commitments
    Being in a show can be both mentally and physically exhausting, so it’s crucial that you take lots of time to rest and have down time when you can during the run of the show. That means you might need to say “no” to requests for helping your friend move or babysitting for your nephew. You should probably also turn down invitations to late-night parties or concerts, too, whether they conflict with your rehearsal or show schedule or not. Also, if you can take a few days off of work during the show, that might be helpful, too, so you have the opportunity to recharge your batteries.
  • Get sleep
    This can be very, very difficult to do during the run of a show, because often rehearsals can go as late as 10 p.m. at night, and once the show is up, you may not even get out of the theater until 11 p.m. or later. But it’s imperative that you do whatever you can to get as much sleep as possible. One way to do that is to find a way to wind down as soon as you get home. If you feel wired when you get home, avoid getting on the computer or watching TV. Instead, do whatever you can to create a relaxing environment — take a bath, meditate, listen to some calming music – so you can fall asleep quickly and easily.

    On the days that you don’t have rehearsals or shows, go to bed early (don’t stay out late partying just because you can!), and try to sleep in, too. Your body will thank you for it.

  • Eat a healthy dinner
    When you’re crunched for time, it can seem tempting to grab McDonald’s on the way to the theater. But remember, your brain, body and immune system all function better when you’re eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. If you have time, prepare your meals ahead of time and pack them up in plastic containers to bring to the theater. Or, if you’re going to eat out, pay attention to what you’re eating. Also, make sure to drink lots of water! Not only does water help your voice work at maximum capacity, but the more water you drink, the more energy you’ll have, too.

  • Wash your hands
    Getting sick is never fun, but it is definitely not something you want to happen during the run of a show. You don’t want to put in all of the effort of learning your lines, only to have your understudy perform your part when you get sick. To avoid getting sick, take steps to keep your immune system strong, such as eating lots of vitamin C and zinc, eating healthy fruits and vegetables (see above), getting rest, and washing your hands frequently, especially if another cast member starts coughing!
  • Get outside
    Getting through a Chicago winter can be dreary as it is, but when you’re spending hours and hours inside a dark theater, you can go weeks on end without feeling like you’ve seen the sky. Lack of sunlight can have a serious effect on our vitamin d levels, as well as our mood, so it’s important to take time to get outside a little bit each day. Try to go for a short walk around your neighborhood or get off the L a stop early and walk the rest of the way. A little fresh air will go a long way to giving you the energy you need to get you through.

Have any other suggestions for ways to take care of yourself during the run of a show? Share them in the comments below!