The inauguration is today! Yipee! We’ve voted the maniac crook lying misogynist narcissist out of the White House. He wanted a military-style sendoff? Shoot him from a cannon, say I.
To be completely transparent, at this moment, as I sit here at my desk writing, the inauguration is actually tomorrow. With all the dour predictions about what’s going to happen on the big day, I am pretty sure I won’t be able to focus on writing. I’ll be glued to the news. Or wandering around my house nervously speaking in tongues. But I’m committed to blogging on the third Wednesday of the month, so here it is, maties, my thoughts for the day, the day before the inauguration.
Last night I was on stage in an improv show. It was a dream, of course. Like so many other performing arts venues, we here at the Fun Institute are currently shut down due to the pandemic. But in my dream, I was on stage, captain of an all-woman pirate ship. We pirates were bad-assed, the story we were collectively telling exciting. Oddly, the other women on stage were strangers to me, and even though we were killing it, I wasn’t completely sure I trusted them—and trusting your fellow players, as you might imagine, is central to improv. At one point, I glanced out into the audience and noticed that they were scattered about the theater, socially distancing. At that moment, I realized what the trust issue was. We were performing without masks! Shouting and yelling our lines as we battened down the hatches, the imaginary waters battering our ship, we were spraying each other with breath. The thought that followed: Shit. Improv is going to give me COVID. Maybe even kill me.
A lot of attention has been given to restaurants, and gyms, schools, and nail and hair salons having to shut down to reduce the spread of COVID. And they deserve the attention. But this blog is for the performing artists. Yes, many of us have moved to Zoom. Some are even thriving there. But it’s not the same. Performing to a live audience, sitting in a live audience, there’s nothing like it. And for us improvisors at the Fun Institute, who weekly crammed into a tiny theater and actively practiced empathy by playing people different from ourselves, who delighted our scene partners by making a conscious effort to make them look good, who exorcized our personal demons by tossing wild and crazy sounds across the circle to one another, who danced and laughed and hugged, for us improvisors I say, we will return. And for those people practicing more traditional theater, I say, we will return. And for those musicians, dancers, acrobats, poetry slammers, and all the performing artists, I say, we will return. People are going to need us. Artists help us understand the world, help us translate it, they pave the way for new possibilities, and maybe most importantly, give us permission to feel. We will return. (In the meantime, writers: time to double down, get your thoughts out there. We need you now more than ever.)
The roaring 20s followed the Spanish Flu, the Renaissance followed the bubonic plague. There is life after COVID. We will be better and stronger and more creative than ever. We will hug again. We will play. We will make music. We will dance. So hang on, wear your mask out in public, get the vaccine when you are able, and let’s get through this thing so we can get on to the good stuff. Aaaaarghhh, say I, captain of this mighty ship.
So, that’s it for today. Remember to live the love, it’s all we’ve got. And blessings on the new administration. You’ve got your work cut out for you, but as the election showed us, the majority of the country is clearly behind you.
Picture above: Mary Read, a notorious pirate