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  • Liam Salmon

Workshopping During a Pandemic

Like many aspects of our our lives pre-COVID it feels like theatre has been placed in a sort of uncomfortable stasis for the foreseeable future. With everyone kind of unsure as to when 'NORMAL-normal' will be, it feels like we're all playing an uncomfortable guessing game. Any time in 2020? 2021? later?

And with this comes all the ways various companies, organizations, and even how individuals have chosen to respond or adapt. Whether that means waiting, or transitioning to some sort of online track, and anything and everything in between.

Where have I found myself in this?

Honestly towards the beginnings of this world-changing event, I found myself totally numb and almost incapable of doing anything creative for at least the first couple of months. I would tune in to Dr. Hinshaw, get my update, and then drown myself in distractions. Everything was cancelled - it felt like a sort of apocalypse that everyone was feeling in one way or another across the globe.

So many projects were cancelled, put on hiatus, or shelved. I was going to be part of the Edmonton Fringe, I had a play in a ten minute play festival, and I had several other things in the works that, on many levels, felt pointless.

I found myself struggling between two seemingly opposite thoughts:

1) What I'd been working on before didn't feel as relevant anymore. We're talking about a MAJOR event that should change everything. Is what I'm doing even important at all?

2) Nobody wants to see a COVID show. In fact - I would almost make fun of this in a sort of bitter way: can you imagine fringe 2021 if ALL of the shows were COVID related? The world feels fatigued. I don't think anyone needs that. Then again maybe I'm wrong. I'm often wrong.

By the same token - there's a lot out of this COVID situation that I'm hoping will result in real, meaningful, and important change. This pandemic situation has revealed several cracks in the way we've neglected several important facets of our political, social, and moral systems.

I don't know if the encourage swell in Black Lives Matter protests would have happened if not for everyone actually having time to sit at home, read, and really see in an unfiltered way what has been, as indeed still happening in the world.

Maybe there's something positive here? Maybe real change is happening.

So what to do?

Since live performances seem all but cancelled for the foreseeable future, I slowly began to inch out of my COVID hibernation and gained some measure of spare emotional spoons to deal with developing some projects.

This includes the play 'Subscribe or Like' as well as a television pilot. In many ways, the future of those projects feels uncertain. We've even found a way to move the Queer Calendar Poject to a purely distanced format, a change that would seem easy for a podcast project, but actually took some logistical thinking. But perhaps its progress simply being able to begin to go back to writing and move something forward.


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