‘There is no precedent in living memory for the challenges that Covid-19 now poses for global communities.’ – Ban Ki-moon
As I look around at my friends, my family and society as a whole in these unprecedented times I see so much grief, anxiety and loneliness. When our realities first started to change in the beginning of this year, we all needed time to process and accept what was happening in the world and to our individual lives. As time goes on, it doesn’t seem to get all that much easier. I think each of us dreads the upcoming northern hemisphere winter.
But as we have at least slowly come to terms with our temporary new reality, so also new ideas arose to deal with this global calamity. And as winter approaches and various forms of lockdown continue to take a toll on each of us in different and varying ways, it is that aspect of the pandemic that I have clung to in order to keep myself mentally healthy: the incredible adaptability of the human spirit.
Many people and businesses have been hit hard by the consequences of this pandemic. The examples of ways in which people and companies are trying to get through this as safely as possible are countless. It tells me that we as humans can take on and adapt to new, almost unimaginable circumstances a lot better than we would expect ourselves to.
Close to my heart is of course the fate of the cultural and creative sector. While writers and individual artists can mostly continue to create, many in the industry are struggling. From actors to set designers, from musicians to concert hall personnel and from directors to choreographers; performances are cancelled and a global industry, in which most individuals already struggle to make ends meet, is on the brink of collapse.
But being the creatives that they are, they have also started to think outside their own boxes.
Online meetings and streaming is where it’s at for now and while the danger of theatres and cinemas closing worldwide for good has many of us deeply concerned, the ways in which different artists thought creatively about how to financially survive and how to bring their work into this hurting and comfort-craving world has been inspiring to behold.
Musicians figured that if you can’t go to their concert, they will bring their concert to you. If you can’t come to stand-up comedians, they will bring their show directly to our home. And if a theatre can’t put on a play, they will just have to perform for us in a different way.
Thank heavens for technology and internet in the time of a global pandemic!
And so on multiple occasions over the past several months I found myself snuggled up on my sofa with a cup of tea and my iPad in my lap. From the comfort of my own home I watched live concerts, interviews, script readings and plays.
As none of us can go out and enjoy storytelling in a physically communal sense, I am grateful to all these wonderful events, so kindly put together by so many, streaming live into my and so many other living rooms all over the world. For the benefit of us and themselves.
Even though I regularly went to fan conventions, saw plays and watched plenty of TV shows in my pre-pandemic life, there is one massive difference to the way I consume culture now: we are all at home. Not just me, not just my fellow viewers, but also the artists themselves: the writers, musicians and actors I was listening to and watching.
And so I was able to virtually attend events I otherwise never could have. I walked around museums I’d never been to. Entertainment companies organised massive online fan conventions I’d normally never have been able to go to. I watched script readings which felt like table reads that you normally do not get to see. I watched a jazz band play live from their living room, streaming all across the globe while taking song requests via Instagram live. I watched actors that we’d normally only see on TV or quite far away in a theatre perform their hearts out up close in front of their webcam, from the comforts of their own homes.
Even amidst all the cancelled plans, the sorrow, the heartache and the anxiety, these moments of sharing a virtual experience creates an intimacy that surprised me and – dare I say it in these horrid times – one I will actually miss.
Loneliness might be a pivotal part of lockdown for many of us, but I find this clear evidence of humans continuously doing their utmost to make the best out of a bad – or rather, absolute worst – situation and seeking one another out to get through this terrible time as a global community deeply encouraging and comforting.