Life After The West End; A Return To 98% Life

By Sarah Horton

So there we have it I now have a West End credit. Something I wanted so badly for so long and something I thought would be the answer to my prayers. Something I believed that once achieved would put me on the right path and some of the struggle I faced since graduating 7 years ago (god that makes me feel old) would be over. Has it turned out like that? Erm, not so much.

Us musical theatre performers are trained and focused on getting ourselves on the big WE. A place where we can solidify ourselves as MT performers and maybe earn a bob or two. When I got the offer (which I thought must be a wind up) to be an understudy on a show that would be doing a summer season on the West End I cried and so did my loved ones. It was an amazing moment, a moment I really thought was going to be a big change for me moving forward and of course in a lot of ways it has been. But here I am 2 months on after finishing the contract with no agent and no auditions.

I keep thinking to myself I’m so stupid to have believed that this credit would make such a big difference in my career but then I think that’s what we’re trained to believe. It then makes me doubt my talent, my looks and my life because, let’s face it, when you’re a performer there’s no real difference between our careers and our lives. Since finishing the show I have found it even harder than before to go back to my muggle life. I’ve felt so desperately lost that I’ve considered giving up all together. Because shouldn’t I have gone from 1 great job to another? Shouldn’t it be easier for me now to get an agent that believes in me? I’ve found it even harder to get muggle work this time around and be able to grin and bear it and with no audition or prospect of an agent in sight the feeling of “what is the point” has been nagging at me everyday.

Now I’m out of the dread that I’m hoping we all go through after finishing a contract but this time with a slightly altered perspective. I feel like my dreams are no longer enough to get me through, I’m not getting any younger (damn it) and the older I’m getting the more I’m craving stability (which really shocks me to be honest). I feel like I’ve been hit with a harsh dose of reality but in a lot of ways I’m grateful for it. It’s opened my eyes to how blinkered I’ve been and how focused on certain goals I have become. With my 30th birthday looming I’m realising how little of my life I can actually plan. Before that was completely acceptable and exciting but now I would actually like to be able to plan my birthday party!

The lesson I’ve learned from all of this is that we shouldn’t fixate so much on this one goal. There are other things that can be equally as fulfilling as being on a West End stage and we should embrace that more and not let ourselves or others make us feel like it’s not a big enough achievement. The biggest lesson is to not take it all so seriously because here I am typing this post in a random reception somewhere in central London earning £9 per hour. So many great and definitely testing things came out of this experience and it’s really made me think about what I really want for my future. It’s also pushed me to pursue other things that actually bring a great deal of fulfilment to my days and, dare I say, I might have found some talents I didn’t know I had.

Sarah is an actor originally from Nottingham (which is the midlands for any southerners out there) currently living in a flat share in London. She has credits she’s proud of and baffled by including a Christmas spent as an overweight elf and a Halloween as a reluctantly dancing pumpkin. You can find her over on Instagram @sarahhorton__ moaning about her temp job and sharing the day to day struggles of a short blonde human trying to make it in the industry. Sarah is very passionate about mental health and she speaks about that over on her blog. The 98% is usually listened to on Sarah’s commute whilst under the armpit of an angry business man on the northern line.