Sentences that I never thought I’d write – what happens to theatre during a global pandemic?
We are afraid for our lives and the lives of those around us. Many of our incomes have been hit hard or dried up completely. Performers and theatremakers no longer have access to our sacred space, an emotional and financial blow. Not to mention that many survival jobs (cater waiting, retail, bartending, etc.) have also been suspended indefinitely. If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or lonely, just know you are not alone. There is only one way we will get through this – together.
Plague and the Players
While viral outbreaks are common and devastating, it’s rare that we deal with something like this on a global scale. From HIV/AIDS to Ebola, from virulent flu strains to the black plague, microbial infections have long proven to be the one predator able to bring humanity to its knees.
Back in 1603, Londoners faced a particularly terrible year. The beloved Queen Elizabeth I died after reigning for 45 years. And that summer, London faced a terrible plague that killed 1/5 of their population. The theatres closed then, as they have here. Shakespeare used the opportunity to write Measure for Measure. What an overachiever.
From 1918-19, during a now infamous outbreak of a deadly flu, Broadway remained open. (It did shutter due to unrelated Equity strikes during the summer of 1919.) Despite strikes, disease, and wars, Broadway has rarely closed for such a long period. Even after 9/11, theatres only closed for two days. This time will surely test our city and the global theatre landscape like never before.
Paciencia Y Fe
For modern actors, writers, theatremakers, and theatrelovers, here are a few ways to keep on keepin’ on during our time self-isolation.
Watch live recordings
We are so lucky to be alive right now. Technology takes some of the sting out of not being able to leave our homes. Here are a few places to watch (legal) recordings of live performances.
- Broadway HD is offering a 7-day free trial. Check out Broadway classics from the comfort of your home.
- The Met Opera is streaming an opera free every night.
- MCC’s Broadway Miscast is a consistent source of joy. Here is the 2019 playlist.
Give to individuals and theatres + advocate politically
- Donate to the Actor’s Fund or Actor’s Equity and their work to support performers during this difficult time
- Urge your senators to include performers and artists in their financial relief legislation
- Contribute to your favorite artist on patreon.com
- Literally just send your friends cash. All of the artists and gig-workers you know are on Venmo, CashApp, or PayPal. If you have extra income, go ahead and redistribute that wealth.
Utilize web conferencing and live-streaming
- Tune into educational livestreaming on #lincolncenterathome
- Sign up to participate in or view Company of Fools’ The Plague Play Readings
- Tune in to livestreams from regular performers at Marie’s Crisis, the beloved NYC piano bar
- Take a dance class on Instagram Live or Zoom
- Start your own play reading club!
Hone your craft in other ways – take care of your body, mind, and spirit
Don’t neglect yourself. There is pressure to “make the most out of quarantine” but your worth is not based on what you can produce. A few ways to nurture yourself during this time:
- Many studios are offering virtual classes. Livestream your favorite yoga or barre instructor for some much needed normalcy.
- Instacart a combination of comforting and nutrient-rich foods. And tip your delivery person generously. They are doing such essential work. Your body may change while you are in isolation. That’s fine. You are not your weight or your shape. Eat what makes you happy.
- Speaking of eating, this is an awesome time to try some time-intensive recipes. I made some homemade chicken stock the other day.
- This one is maybe the most important quarantine self-care tip: get off the internet and turn off the news. Read a book. Call your girlfriend who is in Connecticut and whom you miss dearly. Color. Go on a cautious and socially distanced walk. Learn a TikTok dance. Do whatever you can to honor your own humanity.
Stay safe out there, everyone. You are not alone.
Love and theatre,