Creatives in Quarantine is a segment that highlights creative professionals across the Capital Region during this period of isolation due to COVID-19. We have developed some questions that will allow our community to share experiences and learn from one another during this time.
Margaret & Yvonne, please introduce yourselves…What have you been up to during quarantine?
Margaret: I’m the Associate Artistic Director of Capital Repertory Theatre (theREP), part of the Proctors Collaborative (which also includes, Proctors Theatre in Schenectady and UPH – Universal Preservation Hall – in Saratoga Springs). I have worked at theREP for 8 years now. I do a wide variety of things, including directing touring productions and directing a mainstage once a year. Two years ago, I directed a World Premiere Production with Yvonne, Red Maple. Last year, our organization began connecting with some of our talented and beloved artists to create a category of Associate Artists for theRep. Yvonne is one of them. Outside of being in productions, they often help us with a variety of different things from being on our reading committee for our young playwright contest, to currently, in quarantine times, creating the Got a Minute video series, which provides tips for actors to keep honing their craft while we are all in quarantine.
Yvonne: I’m an Associate Artist for theREP and have had the pleasure of being in 7-8 main stage shows, my first one being in 2007. My relationship with theREP started before that, when I moved back to Albany to get my Masters Degree and start a family 20 years ago. I’m basically a go-to person when they need me to do anything. I love that they’re Albany’s premiere professional theater company. I’m a Chair of the Liaison for Actor’s Equity – the national union for professional theater artists. I’m also an adjunct professor at multiple local colleges. The Got a Minute series is a fun challenge for me. This quarantine has been interesting because theater is a big chunk of what I do during regular times. Theater is community based and what sets theater apart from all other acting work is that it demands a live audience. The quarantine has been a particular challenge for my colleagues and me. A lot of my friends are out of work right now, but we’re finding ways to keep ourselves viable.
Let’s talk about the local creative community, how you’ve adapted for your community and how you’ve seen people come together during these times.
Margaret: TheREP is part of the Proctors Collaborative, which consists of multiple organizations under one umbrella. We’re quite versed in working with our collaborative partners. Working as a collective in this very moment is interesting. We talk to a variety of different organizations and see what they’re doing, how they’re handling this, and how we might be able to work together. We’re trying to figure out more ways to engage with other arts and non-arts organizations in this time of strangeness. We turn to people like Yvonne who are great vocal champions for us, to remind people we are here, we are working to figure out what it means to be a live theater in a time when you can’t be live together. We are slowly but steadily developing different kinds of content and figuring out ways we can engage with our greater community.
Yvonne: I love the idea of doing these videos and sharing them with a broader audience. If you’re not a colleague of mine or one of my students, you typically don’t have access to the information I’m sharing in the videos. Can you go online or read a book and find the information? Probably, but the fact that we are part of this tight knit community and people know our faces and can get an inside scoop on the internet as to what it is what we do when you’re not seeing us acting, is invaluable. I think people are getting a kick out of that. If they’re interested in the process of a performer, this is great information. They’re getting this insight for free. I love that it’s just little nuggets of behind the scenes and ‘this is how we do what we do.’
Do you feel like you’ve been able to connect to a new audience with this new content?
Margaret: The School of Performing Arts, which spans all of the Proctor’s Collaborative organizations, has a huge following of youth in the Capital Region that are interested in musical theater, radio, film, TV, and the entertainment world in general, so in a time like this where they’re all home, these videos are a great way to keep them energized and think about where they want to go on their artistic journey. It’s a free resource, which right now is so essential and crucial for so many.
Yvonne: When I was young, I felt weird because I wanted to go into the theater business and I didn’t know anybody who did it. I didn’t have many resources to learn more about it. Things are different now. There’s a lot of info online. I really love the community component of this series. I love the fact we’re giving these videos to people across the Capital Region who know theREP and appreciate that we are still here and still vibrant. We are part of THIS Capital Region community and you’re getting content from local people you know. It’s kind of cool.
This video series was born out of the limitations of the quarantine…Do you see this type of engagement on social media continuing even after things go back to “normal?”
Margaret: Yes, absolutely. I’ve been watching Lauren Gunderson, playwright, on her new online series of free playwriting workshops. One of the things she said was that this is a place and time for us to be visionaries. We’re adapting to deal with this, but how can we excel at it? How can we use this experience and rise as artists always do in times of difficulty, pain and human experience? Essentially, how do we take this and make the lemonade out of the lemons? Once we figure it all out, I do think new online content from theatrical artistic creatives is going to be something that stays.
Yvonne: I don’t know if we would’ve ever realized the opportunities that were there if we were just going about our regular everyday lives, business as usual. There is going to be plenty of good information that comes out of this. I loved what Margaret said, this is what creatives do in times of crisis; they find other ways to be creative. It’s historically accurate. Artists find ways to do their art as a reflection of the times that they are living in. My Master’s is in Theater History, I’m fascinated by the idea of how people entertain themselves as a reflection of the culture in any given time and place. This period will lead to a monumental change in how a lot of artists approach their work. We will go back to doing what we do best, but this will be another tool we’ll have in our toolbox now.
Any words of positivity you’d like to leave our readers with?
Margaret: Within our organization, we’ve described this period as an intermission. The idea that we’re all on a global pause is going to continue to result in some vibrant art and culture, which is both brilliant and sad when you think about the circumstance we’re in and the thousands of people who won’t be able to partake in it because they lost their lives to the virus. I also think it is going to help in relieving the feeling that theater is “elitist.” I think we might be discovering ways we can share theater more with people who can’t get through our physical doors when those doors open again, and reach people who don’t know theater even exists.
Yvonne: I want people in this area to remember that theREP is still here. We’re still working hard, we’re providing content in new and creatives way. We’ll be back. 100%. We will be back. In a fabulous new space. There are so many exciting things to look forward to.
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