If you’ve been reading my articles, you know that I’m not aiming for some makeshift jab at serious journalism. It’s a back-and-forth mental process in which I play tennis with my own head – trying to go at an issue from all sides and reach some kind of conclusion, one typically meant to inspire. But uh, man. Let’s just take a minute and explore how wild this year has been. I think we’re all grieving for that elusive thing called normalcy. I’m nostalgic for when, despite the intense political polarization currently gripping our society, we could at least come together with formerly uncontroversial hot takes like “Hugs are good.” Such are the joys of yesteryear: now, hugs are not only partisan, but dangerous. Can our industries survive the coronavirus?
This is of course not meant to imply sympathy with the people who seem to think that wearing masks is an “infringement on their rights” – I think we’re all nostalgic for the time when such things were not issues. Of course there were problems before, but rarely did those problems have the character of someone flipping through channels on a network hellbent on airing nothing but Twilight Zone reruns.
But enough about that, because this is all stuff we know already. This year is one for the history books – yeah, we get it. Yet on this site in particular this is worth discussing in the context of not only those aspiring to be working artists, but those who were working artists and are horrified about their career prospects suddenly disintegrating.
There’s a lot to be concerned about: Broadway is closed until Summer 2021. Hollywood darling Christopher Nolan’s latest film dramatically underperformed compared to his previous work. If the crème de la crème aren’t faring well, how are the rest of us supposed to make our way in this industry?
Well, the hard, sobering truth is that our career prospects may not be our primary concerns. Maybe we’re worried about our rent. Maybe we’ve lost loved ones. Yes, this is a sombre tone to take, but we are living in a sombre time.
Yet we can draw courage from the fact that the medium of theatre has survived pandemics before. In times of crisis people can prove unexpectedly resilient, and find themselves adapting to challenges in creative ways, like taking acting classes online and other creative opportunities. They exist, and just like when circumstances are normal, you’ve got to put the work in to find them.
We can also take comfort from that faintest of silver linings: the pandemic has solidified the necessity of art. I’d imagine people drowned themselves in escapist fare when COVID first hit: reading, listening to music, watching plays and films. For many, art has been a tonic that has helped to ease us through this troubling period of history.
So of course things will be back. Perhaps in a new form – perhaps several financial hoops will have to be jumped through before we can return to normal. (And of course, some are back to work already and are adapting to the new measures, but unfortunately others are not so lucky.) But this crisis has helped illuminate how necessary art is to our collective sanity. So there’s no question things will recover, no matter how long that will take, once COVID subsides. Quite frankly, the human spirit demands it.
(Credit for featured image: Miguel Á. Padriñán.)