Since the start of the pandemic, people have turned to the arts for entertainment, comfort, and connection. Look no further than our own COVID-19 Resources page and you’ll find virtual performances, museums, galleries and other arts experiences. But how has the arts community adapted to these new times?
New projects are responding to the state of the world through a creative lens, documenting people’s experiences. Some old works have been revived or revised, and have new relevance in our current circumstances. Performers and creative teams are rehearsing and performing virtually. Everyone is dreaming up new ways to let artists and audiences participate in arts experiences.
Here are just a few examples from the local arts community:
Theatre Terrific offers inclusive opportunities for artists of all abilities. During the pandemic, they have continued to present opportunities online where possible, like their online Choral Class. They are also inviting artists to share their work as part of their Covid Collage. The Covid Collage is an initiative created by their board secretary, Seema Tripathy. The goal of the project is to help people stay connected through creativity. Anyone who would like to participate is invited to share photos, write poetry, draw pictures, make music or express themselves in another creative way.
For example, here’s an excerpt from a poem by Robin Holmes:
Always the same
Four walls get boring fast
It’s for the best.
Not my friend at the best of
Times, what else is new?
Their artist in residence, Patti Palm is also leading “Pandemonium,” a social/creative gathering each Monday at 7:15pm on Zoom. If you’d like to join in sharing, discussions, and art-making, email [email protected]—and check out www.theatreterrific.ca to learn more about their work and connect!
Sometimes a big change can make us see art in a new way. Neworld Theatre created PodPlays ten years ago. A PodPlay is an audio play you listen to while you walk. Each PodPlay is set in a different location, and tells a story while also providing directions. As part of FOLDA, the Festival of Live Digital Art, Neworld has relaunched PodPlays 2020 with a new perspective:
“Ten years on and amid a pandemic filled with much online (dis)connection, isolation and loneliness, we are relaunching these works and considering the power of active aloneness and quiet contemplation at the heart of PodPlays. How will our experiences of these stories through familiar urban spaces be transformed yet again by time, memory and this unprecedented historical event we are living through?”
If you want to see how PodPlays work, you can watch Look Up: A Podplay Video on Vimeo to see how the walk syncs up with the audio story.
Being stuck inside can be a challenge for photographers. With the instructions, “Stay home, stay safe,” groups like the BC Deaf Photo Club had to get creative. Club members could no longer get together for a coffee social or photo walk. Instead, they connected by sharing photos of themselves, their pets, and the people they were living with. Then the group took it a step further, with a video project called “Quarantine Life.” The video is a peek into the lives of Deaf Canadians at home during the pandemic. It’s a collage of people doing similar things (drinking tea, playing with pets, working on art projects) and also sharing their unique experiences.
The project connected the Deaf community from coast to coast. It’s been shared on Facebook more than 250 times, spreading joy and a positive outlook on a challenging situation. You can keep up with the BC Deaf Photo Club on their Facebook page.
A Wheel Voices Preview
What does a theatre company do when the theatres are closed?
Wheel Voices: Tune In was a community production from Realwheels set to premiere in May 2020. The production has been rescheduled due to the pandemic, but the show must go on! As part of Still, Life: A Digital Festival, Realwheels offered a glimpse of the show with a Zoom-recorded rendition of GIMP NATION by Andrew Vallance.
The piece speaks to the ways that people with disabilities have been excluded and made to feel invisible. It’s angry, determined, and demands your attention. Each cast member performs directly to the camera, speaking through the screen to the audience. The Zoom panel view most of us are now familiar with becomes a chorus, with the performers speaking in unison, or even in a cacophony of overlapping voices.
Are you an artist? How are you staying creative and connected during COVID-19? Let us know in the comments below!