In 2020, I heard the words pivot, adapt, and shift more times than I can count. At first, we scrambled to adjust to what we thought would be a few weeks of lockdown. As we edged towards a month, the postponements became cancellations. Three months in, I had Maria Kondo-ed my entire house, turned my dining room into a virtual recording studio, and found a whole new middle medium of performing.
There were frustrations and sadness and a suffocating sense of overwhelming. But there was also space and time. Not the space and time we often wish for-that usually includes an abundance of funding from a mysterious yet benevolent patron, an exotic and relaxing locale, and a wealth of creative flow. Nope, this space was carved out of the evaporation of my career as I knew it. I learned new ways to create out of necessity, not the wellspring of vulnerable creative spark. I became an expert on "I don't know, but let me figure it out." I worked tirelessly on theory-creating what I hoped would be proof of concept. Sometimes, it was delicious, sometimes it looked homemade, like that light blue pencil holder made from glued together popsicle sticks and my messy 4th grade penmanship reading "Happy Mother's Day" with the R backwards. My sweet mother cherished that project. But that space and this bananas timeline reminded me of my passion for theatre. It reignited my spark while simultaneously revealing what parts of theatre hustle I can leave behind as toxic remnants of a profession whose practitioners have long since championed the ideas of equality and representation everywhere but in their own yard.
As we return to the days of socializing and gathering and as we once again become a community, let us be careful when we use the term, "get back to normal." 10 out of 12s is not normal, constantly missing out on having a life to show dedication to theatre is not normal. Fearing taking a day off for self care because you have been told you are replaceable isn't normal.
You can be dedicated to theatre. You can also have boundaries and other interests and not have to carry shame as though you aren't sacrificing enough to be called professional. Both can co-exist and we should no longer tolerate working for those who don't agree.