Gomito’s first run of our new show Roost came to an end last week and for days after I found myself stuck in post-show-state. Post-show-state is, as us poetic types like to say, fully balls.

Its first feature is a feeling of restlessness which tends to involve copious amounts of house cleaning and an inability to sit still for 5 seconds. The other charming feature of post-show-state is emotional deadness. Was I sad it’s over? Nope. Was I happy it’s over? Nope. Glad it went well? Nope. What were my feelings about the future of the show? Meh. Was it worth all the hard work? Bah. Shrug.

I embraced the first symptom of my unfortunate frame of mind in an attempt to wear myself out. I cleaned the house, cut my hair, washed every item of clothing I own, answered ALL my emails, made a puppet, filed my receipts, wrote a show proposal, planned a workshop, stewed a weeks worth of carrot soup and even baked a flipping cake (WHO AM I?).

The second symptom, the emotional vacuum was harder to combat, nothing was raising a smile, a tear, anything but a grunt. Sweet emails from the Roost team? Nope. A good review? Whatever. This insanely beautiful song about building a house? Nice try ipod, but in post-show state I’m made of stone. Very dull, cold, grey stone.

While robotically sorting my receipts I had this talk from the RSA on in the background, for no other reason than I like the RSA talks and it was near the top of the list. It’s about all kinds of things, but mainly the importance of empathy to humans. The speaker, Dr Brene Brown describes the purpose of her work as a social work researcher, and her place in the world as to provide useful, comforting empathy. Not sympathy, empathy, to make proper connections with other human beings which say ‘me too, I know what you feel’. She finishes her talk by showing a picture of someone touching someone else’s hand, a perfect, physical expression of ‘me too’.

It reminded me of something my stupid mechanical brain had glossed over when it happened during a performance of Roost. There is a point in the play, where everything has gone wrong for the characters. One of our performers, Annie, has had a particularly hard time in our story and is sitting alone, close to the audience. The performers have been playing with the audience throughout and established that there is no barrier between the stage and seating area. They’d established it so well, and staged (amongst a pretty absurd setting) such genuine, recognisable human emotions that one evening at that moment a woman in the audience, a complete stranger, subtly reached out and squeezed Annie’s hand. To comfort, to empathise, to say ‘me too, I know what you feel’.

I’m quite a visual person, words aren’t my favourite way to communicate (which is why our long suffering Company Manager has such trouble getting me to write these blogs!) so like the speaker I can’t really sum up my thoughts and feelings about Roost any better than with that moment. Ten thousand words about the best and worst parts, about how right or wrong we got it and what the point of the show was can’t say anything clearer than that image.

One person’s hand on another’s to say ‘me too’.

Emotions reinstated. Love of theatre reignited. Get ye gone post-show blues.

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