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 1: John Perovich
Before the pandemic began, I had completed producing a workshop of REACH/RECOVER at Now & Then Creative Company, a beautiful, moving musical by Phoenix writer/composer Christopher Allen. At the same time, I was completing the Festival of New American Theatre at The Phoenix Theatre Company as their festival dramaturg. Needless to say, things were exciting, fast-paced, and fun. I don’t necessarily advise taking on big projects that overlap, but that is kind of the story of my life — run here, run there, write a play, facilitate this discussion, see this show, and collaborate with friends — old and new (man, I miss people) — on making theatre happen in the valley of the sun. Many people who know me know this crazy schedule. That’s my life.
That used to be my life.
The pandemic has shifted my perspective on theatre and how it fits into my life. I can’t say for certain that I will ever go back to keeping this light of a schedule once things open up, but I will say that I will be more purposeful and intentional about the art I make and the projects that I produce. This shift is happening because of how I have begun to perceive time and my beliefs toward the theatre I want to support in my community.
If it’s one thing I’m sure we can all relate to, it’s that the pandemic has slowed things down a bit. With that change of pace, I have reflected on many aspects of my life (and I’m sure there are still others that I am blind to). I wasn’t the best at taking care of myself before the pandemic. Since then, I have been sleeping and eating better, taking time to speak with family and friends that I used to not be so good about keeping in touch with (I’m not perfect at this, but I’m doing better), I’ve lost weight, and I’ve been able to read more. I’ve also had time to focus on my home environment and make some changes in my apartment to make things a bit more…adult? Like, “hey, here’s this thing to help clean.” Yeah, it’s been exciting.
I am thankful to have been employed during the pandemic — I know that is a privilege. Most of my energy has been spent on my work at Metropolitan Arts Institute. How can we best support 7th to 12th grade students in online learning? That has been a HUGE part of what I’ve been up to during this time…but that’s another blog post.
Side note: Does anyone else feel like all of this started yesterday? The shutdown? I know it’s been more like 9 months.
Anyways…what about art? What will theatre look like when it returns?
I have no idea.
Honestly, I don’t. I want to put some ideals out there for what I think theatre SHOULD be, but I firmly believe that theatres will keep on keeping on with what they’ve been up to. I don’t believe Zoom and streaming plays will have a lasting impact on theatre. I think it has been a tool for the moment — I’m not even sure it has been that useful of a tool for performance. It has been useful in keeping people connected. So, maybe theatres will use Zoom/Google Meet for meetings and workshops — maybe for interviews with artists who aren’t local for audiences — but I can’t see performances continuing on Zoom. But is that really important to think about when we think about reopening?
There have been events that have rocked the fabric of our culture and society during the pandemic (in addition to the pandemic itself!). The murders of George Floyd and other United States citizens of color that awoke a movement of protests and conversations should have meaning in theatres as we reopen. Meaning for a review of equity, diversity, and inclusion practices throughout all levels of the organization, from the board to the box office — everywhere. I don’t know if theatres in our community will make any changes as a result of this ongoing call for social justice. I can speak for myself and say that I am planning to make changes in regards to the art that I produce and co-produce. I am seeking ways to collaborate and leverage the opportunities afforded to me for others because it’s the right thing to do. I hope others will do this, too. If you’re a white person reading this, I invite you to reflect and develop a plan on how you can be supportive of social justice in your ongoing theatre practices, too.
I am excited and hopeful about the future of theatre. I believe that these times are going to release a cascade of art with a new energy…an energy different than what existed prior to the shutdown.
When I can finally watch a show again in a theatre, I know that I will be more thankful than I ever was to be watching a live performance. It was something I did without thinking — something I took for granted. I can’t wait till that day.
I’m even looking forward to the curtain speech.