Art in the time of COVID-19
“The universe is built to discourage boredom. Its endless supply of unpredictable stories provides us with superlative entertainment.” — Rob Brezsny
It’s been a minute. Things keep changing with each passing one, so why not take one to catch your breath? We want this newsletter to help you do that. We hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe during this difficult time. Our monthly newsletters usually feature information about what’s going on with Honest Pint Theatre Co., and, as you can imagine, that’s a great big nothing right now.
We have cancelled our April show, SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS. We hope to produce it in August, providing this pandemic is over and Pure Life Theatre is still open. Yes, that’s an IF. We will be able to weather this storm because we have saved our money and we have no overhead. But we are not like other theatre companies in town. We don’t have monthly rent and expenses. But most do, including Pure Life, Burning Coal, NRACT, Theatre Raleigh, and more.
So, we hope if you still have a job today and can afford it, you will consider supporting ALL LOCAL BUSINESSES in the Triangle — restaurants, etc. — including theaters. Buying local is more important than ever so “mom and pop” small businesses stay afloat and people can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. Also, make a donation if you can to theatre venues so that when this global nightmare is over, they can remain in business. When this is over, we will need art to tell our stories of this worst possible thing.
But for now, we are all staying home, crawling out of our collective skin, trying to find normalcy in a NOT NORMAL world. Be gentle with yourselves and believe and have faith that we will get through this pandemic and come out the other end a better world.
We are so impressed by the endless amounts of entertainment floating around out there right now. We marvel at the singers, musicians, writers, and other artists who are using this down-time to keep other people cheerful and bring some brightness to the world right now. Artists will save us all.
Susannah curated her list of cool stuff she is watching/reading during her self-quarantine, and we want to share that with you. And David will share his in the next newsletter. I’m spending each day trying to maintain some sense of structure, which I’m slowly finding difficult to do. I spent a month and a half in Southern California playing Blanche DuBois in A STREETCARD NAMED DESIRE for IVRT. It was one of the most difficult roles I have ever performed and was an intense experience. Like many productions, we had our run cut short due to the Corona virus outbreak. I’m grateful to be home and I am resting… but, trying to find my footing again has been rocky. So I have decided to read one play every day. It’s a great diversion and it’s also my job as a theatre-maker to be as familiar with as many plays as possible. I look at this time as a gift… today. Check back with me a month from now! You can follow me on Instagram or Facebook to see what I’m reading. I haven’t yet participated in a FaceTime chat with a friend or a Google or Zoom hangout… nobody has asked. Sad face. BUT, if I did, here is a list of questions we could ask each other to get our minds off of the Corona Virus. It’s a really great list that includes, What is your most memorable birthday? What is something you like to do that other people consider weird? What is something you’ve always wanted to try but never had the courage to do? https://people.com/lifestyle/50-questions-you-can-ask-your-friends-instead-of-coronavirus/ For an honest and bracing dose of optimism, check out the opening pages of Rob Brezsny's "Pronoia" which begins "Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up…" Even though it was written in 2009, it’s just the thing we need to read RIGHT NOW: https://realitysandwich.com/30555/glory_highest_part_one/ Here’s something to put a smile on your face. Lin-Manuel Miranda and Andrew Lloyd Webber in a Twitter sing-off. Behold LMM wishing AL Dubs a happy birthday by playing and singing “Everything’s Alright” from Jesus Christ Superstar: https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/mar/20/andrew-lloyd-webber-lin-manuel-miranda-hamilton-musicals-play-off-coronavirus-twitter And since it was theatre living legend Stephen Sondheim’s birthday last week, I feel it’s only right to encourage you to head over to Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook and follow F**k Yeah Stephen Sondheim, one of the most entertaining blogs out there: https://www.facebook.com/sondheim/ There is an op-ed piece by actor Brit Marling that ran last month in the NY Times and it is breath-taking for me. “But I wasn’t drawn to acting because I wanted to be desired. I was drawn to acting because I felt it would allow me to become the whole, embodied person I remembered being in childhood — one that could imagine freely, listen deeply and feel wholeheartedly…. But aside from a handful of exceptions, I was overwhelmed by the number of dramatic narratives that murdered their female characters…. We live in a world that is a direct reflection of these stories we’ve been telling. Close to four women a day are murdered in America at the hands of their partners or former partners. One out of every four women in America has been the victim of a rape… When we kill women in our stories, we aren’t just annihilating female gendered bodies. We are annihilating the feminine as a force wherever it resides — in women, in men, of the natural world. Because what we really mean when we say we want strong female leads is: “Give me a man but in the body of a woman I still want to see naked.” Well, I could keep quoting the article or you could just read it yourself. I hope you will: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/opinion/sunday/brit-marling-women-movies.html?auth=login-email&login=email Thank God for all of the artists on social media who are giving house concerts during this time of quarantine. Who can sing better than Brandi Carlile? Few people, I think. She is a devoted Joni Mitchell disciple, and has covered many of her songs. This one is Little Green (off the Blue album), just to remind us that the earth is still turning and life renews. It’s salve to our weary souls right now. https://www.instagram.com/tv/B993CH6hbxj/ Rufus Wainwright is giving house concerts daily on Instagram. They’re called Quarantunes. His first one was Dinner at Eight, one of my personal favorites of his. It’s about his father, Loudon: https://www.instagram.com/p/B995FFAlu_T/ And if you need your Shakespeare fix, Sir Patrick Stewart is offering a sonnet a day on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sirpatstew/ I’m loving SELF MADE on Netflix, starring Octavia Spencer and my sonshine, J. Alphonse Nicholson! Yay for our local artist! Yay for black female actors producing their own stuff! Yay for the incredible story of this American hero who most (white) people never even heard of! It is truly powerful and inspiring, so check it out. I’m also addicted to LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE on Hulu, based on the novel by Celeste Ng. It stars Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon (they also produced it together — yes, ladies!) and they are fantastic! I want to personally thank David Henderson for letting me skim his Hulu. What a dear. Since all theatrical venues have shut down across our country, many artists are suffering financially and shows that deserve a wide audience will never be seen (or at least won’t be for some time). But there is some good news: if you need your Broadway fix, you can watch Broadway HD from your couch in your PJs. One show that I am particularly interested in and will not get to see live in New York after all is FANDANGO FOR BUTTERFLiES (AND COYOTES). But, En Garde Arts has announced that their production will be available online March 26-28 for viewing. The production was filmed during the show's premiere at La MaMa in NYC. Ticket sales for the production have been reopened to anyone who is interested in viewing it online. About the show: On the eve of city-wide ICE raids, a group of immigrants gather in an undisclosed community center in NYC for a fandango. As fear encroaches - fear for family left behind in their home countries, fear for loved ones in the middle of their dangerous journey to New York, fear of leaving the sanctuary of the community center simply to get a bag of ice - a sense of camaraderie builds between the participants. Strangers become friends, friends become family, and the fandango plays on. FANDANGO FOR BUTTERFLIES (AND COYOTES) is a beautifully rendered expression of hope and celebration of community shared through music, dance, and storytelling. https://www.engardearts.org/fandango/ Also, our friends at the Triad Stage in Greensboro will be staying open for business virtually by streaming entertainment on their Facebook page. Triad Stage has been busy creating and organizing content to share with you in the safety of your own homes. All of these events will be free. If you haven't had the chance to "like" or follow them on that platform, please do so: https://www.facebook.com/triadstage/ And PLEASE make a donation to Triad Stage if you are able! Our friends at Theatre Raleigh have also announced a series of virtual events, a dance class, a live concert, and event a virtual talent show! You can find out more about these offerings on their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheatreRaleigh. Lauren Van Hemert of RDU Onstage is still producing podcasts about theatre and now she has a whole series of how COVID-19 is affecting local area artists. You can listen here: https://rduonstage.com And our Piedmont Laureate, Tamara Kissane, is also continuing to produce Artist Soapbox. Many interesting conversations here about making art. There is no shortage of great stuff: https://artistsoapbox.org And if you haven’t yet discovered the brilliance that is Brene Brown, this time of staying home and slowing down offers you an opportunity to read her extraordinary books, listen to her enlightening podcasts, or watch her inspiring Netflix special or TED talk. Here is a link to her website where you can find all of her information: https://brenebrown.com and in Brene’s words: “This pandemic experience is a massive experiment in collective vulnerability. We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don't have to be scary when we're scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other.”
The rest is silence....
Today we said goodbye to "the bard of American theater," Terrence McNally.
McNally believed that "... theatre teaches us who we are, what our society is, where we are going. I don't think theatre can solve the problems of a society, nor should it be expected to ... plays don't do that. People do. [But plays can] provide a forum for the ideas and feelings that can lead a society to decide to heal and change itself." His legacy will live on!
Here is a link to a wonderful documentary about this American literary treasure:
With that, we wish you good health in these next few months. We are all in this together and we must keep each other uplifted and safe in these troubling and uncertain times. We can’t wait to see you again at one of our productions. Remember actor Matthew Hager gloriously performing “I Will Survive” in our production of THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE? That’s how I feel right now.
We will be back in touch soon.
— Susannah and David