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The new normal

By: - Columnist
/ 12:20 AM April 09, 2020

A DIY setup by the author

We have now entered our fourth week of quarantine, and thus far I’ve streamed quite a few series (my current obsession is Season 12 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”), began writing in a journal and started a few knitting projects.

It’s also been a great time to spend together with my little family (not that we have a choice), but we’re also thankful that we live in a home where we can have time apart from one another if and when we so desire. On a touring schedule, I’m used to solitude, so I tend to crave it even under these unique circumstances.

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Over the last few weeks, we’ve also seen a lot of artists start to find footing in their live-streaming endeavors. One streaming series of note is “Bayanihan Musikahan,” sparked by National Artist Ryan Cayabyab and popular songwriter Trina Belamide.

There are quite a few artists who have trod those virtual boards, such as Martin Nievera, Rachelle Gerodias and Byeong-in Park, Bullet Dumas, Jazz Nicolas, Yumi, Christian Bautista, Nicole Asensio and Ira Cruz, Jett Pangan and his son Rafi, Raymund Marasigan, Quest, Agot Isidro, Jason Dy, Jamie Rivera, Thyro, Gian Magdangal, Kakai Bautista, Celeste Legaspi, Geneva Cruz, Sitti Navarro, Princess Velasco, Juris, Dingdong Avanzado, 4th Impact, Chito Miranda, Johnoy Danao, Morissette, Lara Maigue, Ice Seguerra, Gloc 9, Jim Paredes, Nyoy Volante, Bayang Barrios and Mike Villegas, Noel and Gab Cabangon, Ito Rapadas and Jimmy Antiporda of Neocolours, and yours truly.

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There are still even more artists to come over the next however many weeks, so check into the “Bayanihan Musikahan” Facebook page for the schedule, and tune into Facebook Live to catch them.

As of this writing, “Bayanihan Musikahan” has raised over 37,435,000! To every person and corporation that made donations, thank you all for your generosity.

Because of isolation, every artist has had to be his or her own content producer, lighting director, sound engineer, cameraman, scriptwriter, clothing stylist, hair and makeup artist (whenever applicable, of course), and technician.

For my stream last April 2, I just set everything up on top of my piano. My smartphone was my camera and microphone, and my laptop served as my teleprompter and music source (via a Bluetooth speaker propped up on a small wooden box atop a few books), with “Bayanihan” tech support on standby via my tablet.

Once all things were placed, at promptly 10 p.m., the stream began, and off to the races we went. And, it felt great to sing and entertain again, even for just an hour. Now I understand why Martin Nievera streams daily. I’m sure a lot of his fans are having the time of their lives!

In all seriousness, though, this has me thinking about how we as live artists and performers might need to adapt, given that even after this quarantine is lifted, we’ll be living in a world with this coronavirus.

There will always be a risk of infection until a vaccine is available or enough herd immunity is achieved. As one who makes a bulk of her living from concerts and musicals, how must we on either side of the proscenium start to evolve?

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I’d like to think that we’ll once again be able to enjoy live shows of all kinds, but how we do might need to be adjusted to fit the times. For example, a face mask of some kind may now have to be a requirement at any venue, as well as a temperature check to go along with the bag check at the entrance.

And for as long as it’s necessary, no meet-and-greets or autograph-signing sessions after performances (one solution would be for artists to sign programs and merchandise beforehand). Finally, as dictated by common sense, if you’re sick, stay home.

Pay-per-view live streams could also be set up … one friend, Telly Leung, set something up from his musical director Gary Adler’s living room, with ticket sales to view the stream. Filmed concerts for viewing at home might also be another option.

As for those preproduction meetings … if we can have them via Zoom (which is already turning into a virtual hangout for classes and friendly get-together), then that would be fantastic.

How our industry is going to operate in this new normal will be interesting to watch. With each crisis comes opportunities and possibilities; let’s see who takes advantage of what’s to come. For sure, I’ll have a bucket of virtual popcorn on my lap as it all happens.

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TAGS: Bayanihan Musikahan, lockdown, quarantine
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