What do we do when the studio is closed, the theater is dark and the performance is cancelled?
Across the country and the world, artists, performers, and technicians are feeling the result of a sudden “world without an audience”. Live productions from school theater to Broadway have gone dark. Training we travel great distances to receive in person has gone online. Rehearsals have stopped for some just starting the process, others mid-rehearsal and still others opening and closing within a day. Cast, crew and artistic teams have done a great deal of work and are grieving through artist loss.
The range of emotions is no surprise, but for many encountering it for the first time, may feel surprising. Grief.com defines the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. To add insult to injury, we are forced to mourn our loss in solitude. (Though, we may have happened upon a positive use for those cell phones as they allow people to continue to connect when we genuinely can’t in person). But, beyond that, what will we do?
As soon as you can, no matter what stage you're in right now, it is the time to create.
When corporate study, studio time, rehearsal and performance within the performing arts is limited, let this downtime become a time to brainstorm, develop, incubate and act upon ideas.
Begin with brainstorming. Start a list. If you had as much time as you needed, what would you do? What dreams are lingering out there? Keep your list at hand throughout this hiatus. Revisit it often, even daily, and add more ideas.
Journal. Keep a diary of what this time away from performing, rehearsing, and other people is like. It’s hard to believe right now, but, later you’ll look back and it will add perspective. Plus, you never know what your journal might become in your artistic process.
Create: Create something. Start with anything. This isn't an exhaustive list, but it should get the wheels turning: Doodle, color, sketch, paint, draw, animate, sculpt, build, write, design, compose, sew, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, bake, dance, sing, play around on an instrument like a ukulele, guitar, harmonica, keyboard or your old recorder from 4th grade. Practice voices and accents, play with make-up, mess with yours or your sibling's or a doll's hair. Take pictures, create trailers, commercials, videos, shorts, tiktoks, boomerangs, (or use whatever the latest “creation” app is). Build a model, website, app, portfolio, resume, audition book, collage or make a gift.
Your creative muscles crave this time to be flexed, stretched and strengthened.
Reality is. It won’t always be like this. Things will get back up and running hopefully sooner rather than later. People will long for sitting among fellow audience members to encounter and engage with the live performing arts in real time. They will be starved for it, so that time will come again. Many of us are always so busy rehearsing, acting, singing, dancing, directing and producing. Is it possible to re-frame this hiatus as an opportunity and necessary part of the cycle?
Now is the time for creating.