Show biz in the time of corona
It’s not a good time for those of us who have made live entertainment our living.
All over Facebook, there are many performers—singers, hosts, theater folks—who are reporting that many of their events have been canceled. Corporate events, especially. And those are the ones that pay well.
One will be unemployed until June … another until August. A few of us have international performances or tours that are about to begin (mine starts on April 3). Performances of current runs have been canceled or postponed, and upcoming productions scrapped completely. Panic and fear have gripped the good people of our metro, and it’s adversely affecting our industry.
Schools and universities are closed in other parts of the world (including those in Metro Manila for one week). One friend, who’s a college professor, will begin teaching classes online because of it.
Studio audiences will reportedly no longer be invited to see live noontime shows. I’m now concerned that, for the long haul, there won’t be audiences for future episode of “The Voice Teens” due to this virus scaring the living bejeezus out of everyone.
And yes, we do have a right to be afraid, especially of something that is so new and unknown. And, no amount of sobering perspective posted online, such as lower mortality rates or that majority of COVID-19 cases are mild, can make anyone feel better. There’s always that sliver of a chance that one of us will fall into the minority and become a mortality statistic.
So, what are we supposed to do now? Hide in our homes from this invisible predator until there are no more new cases? Disconnect ourselves from the world, staying away from other human beings in total and complete isolation? Allow this virus to disrupt our lives and our livelihood?
As human beings, we crave, demand and require human connection. The entertainment industry helps to satisfy that craving by boosting people’s morale, whether it’s by regaling an audience in song or making them laugh with some stand-up comedy, or reducing a crowd to tears with a death scene in a play, a movie or a ballet, or stirring up emotions with music played by a small band or a full symphony orchestra.
We’re not meant to be cooped up forever. We need to see shows, watch plays, listen to live music being played, feel the blood bubble, thanks to superheroes coming together. We need to laugh and cry. We need to feel.
However, this doesn’t mean being cavalier about it all and forgetting to take care of ourselves and our health.
So, as unpopular as this will sound, this is what I propose: Go find a way to connect with other humans. If you’re an artist with canceled events, maybe gather other artists like yourself and have readings at home. Perhaps offer one-on-one lessons with a student, instead of a full-fledged workshop.
Schedule a jam session. Write new music. Collaborate with smaller groups. Record an album (if Billie Eilish can do this in her bedroom, we really have no excuse). Stoke the artistic fires somehow and be in a room with others where your heartbeats can line up in perfect sync.
But … for the love of all that is good and holy … please observe all the pieces of hygiene advice laid out by the World Health Organization and the Department of Health.
Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds whenever and wherever you can. Twenty seconds is enough time to sing the chorus of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” with a “never gonna give, never gonna give, give you up” thrown in, or that of “My Shot” from the musical “Hamilton,” or if you’re a Shakespeare lover, the first six lines of Sonnet 18 should do the trick nicely.
Next, wear a mask, not so much to protect you from the virus, but to keep yourself from touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth. Also, no shaking hands, kissing or hugging. A wave should suffice or, if you want something different, a Thai “wai” (folding hands as in prayer with the head slightly bowed) would be lovely.
Use your elbow to steady yourself when using the escalator, as well as to press the buttons in an elevator. Try to keep a wide enough berth between yourself and other people. Keep yourself healthy by drinking a lot of water, getting enough sleep, taking lots of vitamins and probiotics, and managing stress levels.
And, if you are sick, please stay home, whether you have a cold, the flu, or COVID-19.
Sure, we should absolutely be careful, but we still need to live our lives. Yes to precaution, no to panic.
Sigh, we have begun a new kind of normal. And if I may be honest, I really don’t like it. However, we may not have any choice but to hunker down and wait things out. Here’s hoping this won’t last too long.
Kapit lang, mga bes, but from at least one meter away. And let me spray some hand sanitizer on you before we do.
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