I am a singer. And during the month that we as performers will never forget, I am an artist living within the confines and challenges of the Coronavirus, Covid-19. As we watch the rising numbers of those dying around us, performers are also watching the death of their livelihood and future as artists. With the unprecedented act of closing the doors to theaters and opera houses around the world, it slammed shut the livelihood and hopes of an artistic community who lived from performance to performance. Anger, grief and fear were left in its wake and every performer worldwide was faced with the question of how they would survive.
It is remarkable to me that difficult times can produce incredibly creative responses. In an act of stunning solidarity, artists started caring for each other by setting up online Artist Relief Funds for those who were in need.
Sites such as Artist Relief Tree created a model for others to follow. The result generated not only financial aid but developed a sense of community which sent a powerful message loud and clear to performers that they were not alone. Positivity is a powerful resource. And there was applause within the acts of kindness that replaced the silence of the theaters.
But what about performances? The quarantine and self-isolation have placed performers in a singular situation. A performer’s world is one of collaboration with other artists. Not only has our work been curtailed but our camaraderie with other artists has become much more difficult in our isolation. And the collective grief that was shared from lost work and fear for the future seemed to suddenly anesthetize the desire to create. To me, the most dangerous thing assaulting artists right now is the loss of confidence in what they hold most dear – their creativity.
But as the days go by in our Coronavirus reality, there has been a welcome shift. Artists are facing their grief and starting to perform in their isolation.
Schubert songs are going out from living rooms to social media; string ensembles are performing remotely; and actors are reading Shakespeare sonnets online. The profound power of the internet gives us all a voice and a worldwide audience. And suddenly…. there is applause. People in cities leaning out of their windows with wild applause. This applause is being given for another kind of “divine” artist… the heroes in our Doctors, Nurses and all health care workers, giving their lives to battle a virus that scars and kills.
Musicians, dancers, actors, writers, filmmakers and visual artists will forever care for each other and continue to revivify their own spirits with their work. It is in our blood. And our work will come back to theaters with time. There are many different kinds of artists in this world, and right now our theaters are the hospitals where Doctors have taken center stage. And the audience of the world, whether from their own feelings of helplessness or a profound need to feel connected during this pandemic, are doing whatever they can to show their admiration and trust…they erupt in applause to show their support for the healers who are willing to perform the greatest act of creativity in their art…….preserving a human life.