Nov 2020 Blogathon: Alexandra Utpadel

It is Brelby tradition to dedicate the month of November to giving a platform for our artists to share their stories. This month our annual Blogathon theme is “Shifting Perspectives”. We’ve spent a large portion of 2020 with our stage dark, but that doesn’t mean that our artists haven’t been growing, changing and creating. This year we asked them, “How has the pandemic impacted your perspective on theatre, the arts, and life? What are your hopes for the future of theatre?”
Enjoy this year’s series with 30 Days of Blogs.

Day 6: Alexandra Utpadel

Do you remember New Years?

It was so long ago. I wouldn’t blame you if it slipped your mind.

See, I remember New Years. I remember sitting around a small group of friends, drinking Dr. Pepper to stay awake. I remember painting a happy little tree on a vision board, because I thought – I thought, “Man. 2019 hasn’t seen me at my best. I wasn’t my best this year. I want to be better. I want to grow.”

I remember smiling and laughing. I remember singing Frozen like a constantly switching radio, “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” abruptly switching into “Let It Go” and back to “For the First Time in Forever.” The taste of champagne tickling my nose at midnight, sparklers drawing hearts for Snapchat, going around a circle and toasting our resolutions.

Rainbow words on a white canvas. “You are enough.”

It used to be my mantra. Whenever I was feeling down, anxious about a performance or going out for drinks with friends, I could just follow the rule of three. Breathe in for three, hold for three, out for three while whispering three words. “You are enough.”

I don’t think I’ve believed those words in a long time. Not since New Year’s, maybe.

I don’t want this piece to kill the mood, but I think honesty is important. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway; what do I know?

The thing is, my mind has been a swirl of slowly building negativity since March. Some days – weeks – I find it near impossible to get out of bed. I stare at twitter and scroll endlessly past news events, not really reading them but absorbing their anger and anguish nonetheless. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I hate the person looking back.

I’ve always struggled with depression. This year has made that struggle into a violent war.

But even in a sky full of grey clouds, sometimes the sun comes shining through. Trust me, I know; I’ve lived in Oregon. The sun in my life – the sun in a lot of our lives, I’d imagine – is art.

On days when I’m beating back my demons with a sword, I think about how many zoom play readings there are. I think of endless virtual cabarets and drive-in theatres. I think about how lucky I am to help bring socially distant live theatre at Theater Works. We can joke about how every theatre in the country is doing a virtual performance of something from Shakespeare’s canon, but by GOD – it makes me smile.

The shining moments of this year have been when I was able to be creative. I loved sitting on the edge of my bed with Cheshire cat makeup on my face performing only to my camera. I loved getting to read plays with strangers and then excitedly talk about them afterwards. I love putting on fifty fussy layers of rabbit costume and talking in a funny voice very loudly so the audience can hear me from six, twelve feet away.

This year has been absolute hell. Believe me, I know. But If there’s one thing that’s getting me through it, it’s art. It’s making art. It’s seeing other people making art.

I think back to New Year’s Eve. I think of someone proudly painting a lightning bolt of pansexual pride. I think of another daintily planting lavender flowers with her paintbrush at the bottom of her canvas. I think of decoupage and rainbow stickers and the taste of snickerdoodles. I think, “Man. 2020 hasn’t seen me at my best. I wasn’t my best this year. I want to be better. I want to grow.”

Rainbow words on a white canvas. “You are enough.”

I’m still not always okay. I’ve still got a war going on in my skull. I know I’m not the only one, either. But maybe – maybe I don’t have to believe it all the time. Maybe I can say it anyway. I can take the meaning and put it in my pocket when the skies aren’t so cloudy.

Maybe that’s what art is for.

“You are enough.”

Breathe in for three. Hold for three. Out for three. Whisper three words.

“You are enough.”

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