How To Cope With the Broadway Closure

Article Image
Photo Source: Photo by Sudan Ouyang on Unsplash

People that work in the arts, specifically people that work in theater, have to be ready for the unexpected. There are no “re-dos” in theater, and no amount of rehearsal can shield you from the random events that can occur in a live production. While the ability to improv and think quickly is strong for those in theater, nothing could fully prepare you for the Broadway closure. We all remember the early days of the lockdown when we thought this would be so temporary. For many, including me, hearing that Broadway would be closing for an extended time was a sobering experience. This source of joy, this source of income, this source for creative expression, was going away for a long time, and there was nothing we could do about it.

As a therapist that specializes in working with artists, entertainers, and creative professionals, I’ve seen how difficult it is to process this massive change in the entertainment industry. It’s a lot to digest so much change at once. It’s hard to come to terms with this huge pause or change to your career. In therapy, clients are able to move through this loss in a safe space and find hope and direction again. To those wanting some help in addressing this loss on their own, here are three steps to help you cope with the Broadway closure.

1. Finding acceptance of the situation.
By acceptance, I mean identifying the truth of the situation as it is currently, and not as it could be or as it was previously. To find acceptance, you need to identify what you can and cannot control. For instance, as an actor, you cannot force Broadway to open, but you can explore ways to keep acting, or you can find ways to hone your craft in the meantime. By reminding ourselves of what we can control, we begin to make peace with the now. It is, of course, important to acknowledge our negative feelings about the situation. The goal is not to think ourselves outside of feeling upset, but to address our feelings and find how to begin moving on. Ways to explore these negative feelings in a healthy way might be talking it out with friends, journaling, or meditating. The goal is to let yourself feel what you need to and to validate your emotions.

2. Finding meaning.
Finding meaning in a situation is an important step in letting go because it helps us make peace with the fact that something negative happened. If you have a horrible break up, but that leads to you writing an amazing song, it makes the heartache feel worthwhile. The meaning of bad things in our lives can change over time, but that does not mean it is impossible to find meaning now. Finding positives to the Broadway closure, finding lessons you have learned from this situation, or turning the closure into artistic inspiration, are all ways to find meaning. If you struggle to find meaning from the closure, it’s important and empowering to remember that you have the capability to turn these hard times into valuable lessons and steps to growth.

3. Finding growth and taking action.
The last part of coming to terms with the closure is taking new steps to improve your future. You should not make new plans just because your other plans are derailed, but also because of the lessons you have learned. When making new plans professionally and personally, it’s helpful to incorporate the understanding you’ve gained from the situation. It helps to deepen the meaning, and again remind you of the strength you possess to turn this pain into something productive. An example would be the actor that always wanted to do voice work who realizes the pandemic is the justification he needs to invest in recording gear. It’s also important to identify what you’ve lost and explore all the ways to still have that in your life. Some examples of the losses I mean are creative outlets, social situations, self-esteem, stability, as Broadway can serve these purposes for many people. If your work on Broadway was your main creative outlet, then it would be important to make sure you’re expressing creativity in other ways. If working on Broadway was a source of pride and self-esteem, it would be important to nourish things in your life that also give you pride and esteem.

Going through these steps with a friend, a therapist, or even your journal will help you to process all the feelings coming up due to the closure. It’s important to address those feelings and not push them aside! Lastly, when going through these steps, it’s important to have patience with yourself for how this process looks for you and exploring some of the ways this closure has impacted you. For instance, some ways it could manifest are lack of motivation, stifled creativity, sadness, or stress. By expressing your feelings, gaining insight, and making positive and conscious changes, you’ll be able to get through this time! And of course remember, even if you go through these steps on your own, you’re not alone in feeling this way. We are in this together!

Looking for remote work? Backstage has got you covered! Click here for auditions you can do from home!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Author Headshot
Elle Bernfeld
Elle Bernfeld, LCSW is a Brooklyn based therapist that specializes in artists, entertainers, and creative professionals. Her passion for working with those in the arts comes from her experience performing professionally and locally in the Los Angeles area as a child. A graduate of Columbia University and NYU, she provides individual counseling and creative collaborators counseling in-person and online. Additionally, she is a mental health advocate, public speaker, and wellness writer.
See full bio and articles here!