This is another one of those "process of a show" posts that seem to go uncommented on. I only tell you all this so you can see the show like I do, because I am so very insightful and modest.
There is a great big middle ground in the run of many shows. It starts after the beginning few performances and it ends, well, near the end. Things run the same, over and over. There are some little mistakes but people are generally on their game. There are the parts where you have an entrance or some scene change and you know to the split second when to go, how to move, and how to get that piece in just the right place even without a spike mark. You know the sound cues, the light cues, and when to expect quiet or noise. It can be a little boring. Nothing changes much.
You now know just how to deliver that line, just what the other person will say and how they'll move. You know how they move the props off of the furniture you pick up in the change at the end of the scene. You have now figured out which foot to lead with, and how close to follow the other actor so you don't step on her skirt. You now have favorite lines that others say and you pay close attention as they are delivered, just for the inane thrill of hearing something like, "I think they're Papists."
But eventually, and far too soon it almost always seems no matter how boring the show was, the end comes into sight. You think to yourself, Crap! I only have three more opportunities to say this line I like, to make that entrance, to take a bow. And then worst of all you suddenly realize that in two more nights, I won't see these people anymore, some of them maybe never again.
OK, some people you might not miss especially much.
But there are others that are now really your friends. You have spent perhaps forty evenings with them. You really worked hard, together, to be able be able to tell a story well enough that people would forget themselves for a few minutes and be in awe, so they might feel emotions that the playwright imagined, perhaps lifetimes before today. You have now become an integral and interdependent part of a unique retelling of a story.
The feeling you have is intimacy. Your fellow actors have struggled along with you, holding your hand for comfort or just to tell you that they appreciate you. A genuine smile of joy comes to both of you when you see them. You have their unconditional support. You trust each other. You may work together on another show, but you fear (rightly) that it won't be the same; this show you are in is unique.
They say the show must go on, but eventually the show must end.
The last performance starts with an odd electrical feeling, each moment you treasure arrives and passes just like it did twenty times before, then suddenly the show is over. You take apart the set in a couple of hours and the world in which you told your story is destoyed, forever. You go to the cast party and everyone is congratulated, kissed, hugged, then said goodbye to.
You drive home. It's over.