My blog, My writing, KC Theatre, and life, post-Covid

I knew then that I would have to tell him, that it was time. “I didn’t sleep very well,” I said. I was dizzy and I had to catch hold of the chest of drawers. I remember it. It had a pink marble top. “Robert,” I said, “I think there is something the matter with my head.”

“The Snake Pit” By Mary Jane Ward, Chapter 4

I decided, today, to take a look at my blog and all the plays I had written about. I recall that it was fun to write about them, but also stressful to make the time. In the years and the Fringes before Covid, especially in 2017 to 2019, I was tired and worried I wasn’t doing enough, and I was upset I couldn’t push myself to see more and write more about what I was seeing.

In January of 2020 I started a new job as a Family and Medical Leave Specialist. I was very familiar with Human Resources, but there was a large learning curve in handling leaves as it relates to school districts and educations.

After two months of training, in March of 2020 we were sent home to work. I was isolated, handling employee medical issues as well as Covid. I returned to the office in August of 2020, and the workload kept increasing until it hit its peak in November of 2020.

Since that time, my life has been absorbed by Covid. How many cases are there? How many people are sick? A running tally in my head of numbers, tracking, charts and graphs. I would wake up in the middle of the night most nights to look at dashboards from local and national governments. I had apps that would alert me to percentages and ICU fill rates. I cannot get into more details as it is proprietary work information, but I was always working with Covid and dealing with illness and death.

https://tinyurl.com/yjbna782
Visual Description of Photo: Snapshot of a website that shows the current number of Covid cases and deaths from the beginning of the pandemic to September 4th, 2021. There is a graph of soft blue columns on the Y axis showing in the country, with a dark blue line outlining the local trend. The national and local trend of Covid cases and deaths match closely, the only difference being volume.

My brain was full of charts, graphs, and numbers. There was no room in my head for me to think of plays, stories, or characters. At the same time my brain was being overloaded, businesses closed across the country. My outlet for expression, my social hub, Theatre, was shut down. I had no contests to write for. no theatre to review. I was unable to see my friends. A few weeks before Covid, I had started a playwriting support group, which since moved to Zoom. That has been my lifeline to theatre, but it seems most of the rest of it has disappeared, and is slowly returning. Yes, there has been zoom plays, yes there has been outdoor theatre.

There is that moment of live theatre that I always fondly call the moment we are ‘going to church (a phrase I’m unsure where I picked up from.) What I miss of theatre is that collective breath the audience takes in the dark room as the house lights begin to dim. When all the chatter quiets down, and everyone prepares to share in an experience together. That is my favorite part, where we all sit together and agree we are going to shut out the rest of the world for an hour or two. And how we behave and respond affects so greatly how the actors perform. We must give to them in order to receive the art they are creating. Being an audience member is anything but passive when it is live and in a small space, and that is what I miss.

Having church taken away, and having stress fill that hole was detrimental. Being in this cycle ran me to the ground until I had to take some time to step away. I will not go through details here as I am only giving details to a few people. For now, what I will say is this: I am being honest with those I trust and owning the fact that the pandemic has taken a toll. The pandemic was the perfect transaction of taking away my favorite thing and giving me the most stressful thing. That exchange caused panic attacks, so severe that I have worked out crisis plans with certain individuals and have how to work those plans on medical ids on my wrists. I cannot hide what I have.

I have determined that I must be in this for the long haul, as in March 2022 it will be 2 years of managing these emotions and this crisis. Luckily, as we move forward into this year, theatres are welcoming patrons that are vaccinated, and some are allowing unvaccinated with proof of recent Covid testing.

Covid Protocols to Follow in Order to Return to Live Theatre

Local theatres are taking serious measures to protect their staff and audiences from the virus, and I hope everyone supports them and gives whatever extra donations they can to offset the increased expense. I have collected a few of their websites as examples as to the variety of measures theatres are taking, and the ranges of patron requirements. This variety clearly reinforces that you must review the protocol before every performance, as this is a very fluid situation, and each theatre, based on size and location, has different requirements.

Check the venue’s Covid-19 protocol before you go. Stepping foot on the venue’s parking lot means you agree with their protocol and you will follow it.

Unicorn Theatre has a Covid protocol site clearly listed: https://unicorntheatre.org/covid-19/ , as does KC Rep https://kcrep.org/covid-19 , Starlight https://www.kcstarlight.com/visit-starlight/staying-safe/ , The Barn Players https://www.thebarnplayers.org/about/covidsafety/ , and the Kauffman Center https://www.kauffmancenter.org/the-center/health/. You can find most protocols by performing a google search with the theatre’s name and ‘covid-19’. If you still are unable to locate it, I would highly recommend calling the theatre to get a copy of their Covid protocol as each one should have one.

Listing the protocol at each venue can give you peace of mind and help you make a solid decision as to which venue(s) to return to. For example, Starlight is not requiring masks, only strongly recommending them, so that is not a venue I, personally, will be visiting at this time simply due to my anxiety. You may be completely comfortable since it is an outdoor venue. As far as protocol, I cannot tell another adult what to do, but protocols should be followed based on venue. If you are anti-mask and anti-vaccine, for example, I would review the Unicorn’s policy before purchasing a ticket.

Regardless of where you fall in your decision, the venue has the authority to decide who comes in and who doesn’t. Research their protocol and patron requirements. And whatever their guidelines are, by stepping foot onto their parking lot, you are agreeing to their Covid protocol that is clearly communicated. On a personal thought, I hope patrons are kind to the employees at venues as they are simply following the protocols their employer put in place.

Let’s all get back to the theatre. Let’s get vaccinated, let’s mask, let’s do whatever it takes to get back into seats and live theatre safely. It is truly a lifeline.

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If there is one bit of joy that I’ve seen in this time of uncertainty, it is the creation of the Theatre Community Fund of Kansas City. Their volunteers are incredible, and Jake Walker birthed an idea in the midst of a pandemic and the entire board has brought it to life. If you need a pick me up, review their Instagram, Facebook, or, best yet, if you are able to, volunteer.

To Donate, please visit: https://form.jotform.com/203453484808157 .

https://www.theatrefundkc.org/

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