Are We There Yet? by Ann Mantel

Are we there yet?  Imagine your 6 year old self in the back seat of the car.  Now whine it to your parents.  “Are we there yet?”  Admit it, as grown adults we seem to be whining those words, if not out loud, at least in our heads, as we cope with our pandemic lives.  

The toll COVID19 has taken can’t be understated.  People of all ages, working and interacting face to face, shoulder to shoulder with others in the community- From teachers to waiters- Sales people and salon workers-  Shaking hands, getting and giving high fives and hugs- Sitting close at the table with family and friends.  We really did all that.  Now we don’t.  Now life events from Weddings to Funerals take place on Zoom.  It’s surreal on a good day and unbearable at its worst.  

Those of us who participate in live performance have had to pivot. There was no other option.  For theatre artists, musicians, stand-ups, club owners, profit and non-profit theatres –and anyone who makes their living in the world of performing arts- well, it continues to devastate.

We at Held2Gether are managing to hold together.  With the leadership of Darren Held and Richard Martinez we did even more.  We pivoted and got back to work.  We became “Held Apart”, producing digital content and streaming for the community with a variety of shows.  Classes came back.  Zoom of course.  But we plugged in and kept moving.  The irony is now that we are Held-Apart, we couldn’t be held more together.  Working this way is not what we signed up for, but honestly, it’s been wonderfully gratifying.  Making the effort to connect with each other, troupe members and extended community, has been a ball.  Creating our online content- improvising, sketch-writing, jamming, meeting to play games, to share strength, to be vulnerable- it’s been a comfort and a joy.  

Someday, whenever that is, we’ll be back in that dusty little theatre with the broken chairs and the sub-standard air conditioning.   We’ll schlep the cans of soda, the beer and wine.  We’ll set up the bar and put out the tip jar.  The audience will schmooze while the troupe pretends to warm up backstage.  Darren will welcome everyone.  The lights will go down and then come back up to reveal a group of people doing what they do best-  breathing on and listening to each other.  And it will be grand.

No, kids in the backseat.  We’re not there yet.  But we will be.  Until then, keep creating anyway you know how.