Nov 2020 Blogathon: Stephanie Spencer

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.

Stephanie Spencer

Ahh, the holidays. The weather cools down, the sun starts to hide more often, and the time of fuzzy blankets, and self reflection has arrived at our door steps once more. At the risk of sounding cliché, this time of year always takes me back to where I was a year ago. How did I feel, then? What goals did I have? Did I accomplish the things I had set out to do? I’m usually faced with a mixed list of answers, but altogether proud of myself. This year had some major leaps as I was planning it – celebrating my brother’s new marriage, putting together all the details for my own wedding, and producing my very first play, to name a few. Like so many were, I was awaiting the new decade with eager excitement, thrilled for what the days ahead were going to look like. 

And then, 2020 actually happened. And we all know that story. Our lives have been put on hold for who knows how long, and as we start to dive into COVID-19’s resurgence, I find my holiday optimism starting to dwindle. How do you push through when your passions are put on hold for what seems to be an indefinite time? How do you stay positive through another cancelled show, not knowing when you’ll be able to work with your fellow creators and bring another story to life? 
How do you stay optimistic without art? 

As I count my blessings and thank my lucky stars for a job that helps me stay afloat in these tumultuous times, I find my own kind of despair in the fact that my day to day, at this point, no longer has any art in it. Looking at my play makes me sad that it never happened, the thought of another reading on zoom gives me a headache that not even blue light glasses and ibuprofen can solve, and the last TV show submission I sent out is just not looking for what I have to offer. A year ago, I would’ve taken that rejection in stride – this year, I crumpled. Was that my last chance to create? What on earth would a has-been artist have to say on the blog of a theatre company? Was what I had to say even worth reading, or just idle complaining? And then I remembered just how many people were suffering right now, who didn’t have the outlet that I was given…

So I don’t write this to complain, but to let anyone out there who feels like they’ve lost themselves this year – You are not alone. 

You’re not alone as you cry, or as you nearly tear your hair out at the rejections of what little acting jobs are out there. You’re not alone as you mourn the loss of yet another show that you could have produced, or another story you could have told. You’re not alone as you fear for your next rent payment, and you’re not alone if you’re lucky enough to pay your rent but feel like you’ve lost your art. If the arts have always been one thing, it’s resilient, and we’ll make it through. Until then, know that you are not alone in your pain, and your fellow artists are with you in good times and bad.

The crazy, inspiring, beautiful thing about theatre is it stands the test of time. Shakespeare’s words are being read more than ever as we face this crisis, and we will continue to read them when we get through this. If this year has taught me anything about theatre, it’s to not take those precious moments of creation for granted. I hope that, when that wonderful day comes, when theater’s can open their doors for live audiences, the spaces are (safely) packed with people that have missed it just as much as I have. Until then, celebrate the readings, the side projects, and every phenomenal ounce of creativity that theatre company’s are putting together to keep any trace of what we love alive. We’ve made it this far, friends, there’s no way we can stop now. It’s scary right now, scarier than I ever could have imagined, but theatre is the thing that gives me hope, and if the Bard can handle another zoom reading, so can I. 

We will get through this, and until then, please know that I always have your back.

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