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.
This prompt was a doozy.
I don’t know a single artist who hasn’t been greatly impacted by the pandemic.
Some in my circle have lost their jobs.
Some have decided to pursue entirely new careers.
Some have had to completely change their life plans and goals.
Some have battled COVID-19.
Many have lost people.
So how has the pandemic impacted my perspective?
When it comes to art, I think it’s solidified something that I already inherently knew. Artists are resilient storytellers. They are the lifeblood of society. Without creators, we would sink into a darker place. While some creators may be feeling as if they have lost their spark through this mess, it won’t be gone forever.
When it comes to theatre, I’ve learned that the artform will adapt. We’ve seen so many creative projects take flight locally and beyond within the limitations of our new safety protocols. I’ve seen a fascinating new world of virtual theatre take flight. I’ve also seen how reckless people are willing to be in order to get back onstage. I’ve seen stories surface across the country of community theatres who leapt back into producing without maintaining safety protocols resulting in infected casts. I know that we miss theatre, but it’s just not worth risking artist safety (and yes I include backstage staff in that artist title) if you don’t have the physical space and resources to do it right. This is why Brelby is still on pause. We know that our venue is too small to safely rehearse and produce. I have seen many who are doing it right.
When it comes to life, I’ve realized just how ready we were for a shift. A forced stop to producing gave us the time to reevaluate everything we’ve been doing, and the goals that we’ve been working towards. Guess what? Goals can change after you’ve been working towards them for over a decade. Our certainly have. If we hadn’t had a few months to recalibrate, we may have taken even longer to realize this.
Despite it all, I’m incredibly optimistic. Optimistic for the future of theatre, and the future of our little theatre. We had a chat recently with a few of our friends who have been furloughed from the world of Broadway, and what their predictions were about the timeline for returning to live performances. One of the encouraging things that they said, and I agree with, is that regional theatres will be the first ones back. This gives us all such an immense opportunity to pour our support into our local gems, and to advocate for the theatres that are working to create new and innovative art. This could be the theatre revolution that we’ve been waiting for.
Another big shift. Brelby is selling our building. It’s move that we’ve been considering for a long time, and we finally had the valuable resource of time to prepare ourselves fully for the process. We’re ready to be nomadic for a little while…and eventually we’re looking at finding a cozy storefront again. We plan on scaling back the number of productions we do, and drastically increasing the amount of time we give to developing them. We’re looking at re-devoting ourselves to a focus on original works. We already have some that are already in the works, announced as a part of Season 12 originally…but now being given the time to percolate and develop until they’re ready…and we’re ready to safely produce again.
We’ve adapted into a production company. We’re producing sketches and just unveiled our first web series last week. We’ve been considering this for a long time, and now we’ve finally taken that step. You can expect more web series from us in the future, and we’re beginning to brainstorm for our first independent film.
Ultimately the biggest shift for us has been time. We are taking social distancing extra seriously because we have high risk individuals in our immediate family. We’re at home a lot now. Constantly. We cook. We bake. We play with our everchanging and brilliant daughter. We miss our friends and artists terribly. We know that we’re never going to return to Brelby as it once was…but we’re so immensely proud of the art we created, the community we fostered, and the steps that we took together. We can’t wait to see what comes next.