While dealing with event production in the era of COVID is by no means easy, it’s still something most patrons and board members don’t see. And because the professionals making all of that happen are as good at it as they are, it risks comes across as simple. Thankfully, Mark Larson wrote an article for the 1/20/22 Chicago Reader that illuminates the challenges involved, the toll it takes on those doing the work, and how they are rising to meet the challenges.
Laron’s article focuses on theater production professionals but that doesn’t make it any less applicable. He converts his conversations with stage managers and house staff and bout life and work during the pandemic into a compelling narrative.
It simultaneously educates, illuminates, and personalizes this new normal. The conversations cover the full range of time from when COVID was just entering the news through last month. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts from the article:
Christine D. Freeburg (stage manager, Steppenwolf Theatre): I don’t know if it was because we knew this company already, but [when we reopened Bug in November 2021] all of that BS small talk that you usually have, we skipped right over that. I don’t know if it’s because “time is too short,” but we were having really deep conversations that maybe we wouldn’t have had two years ago. You’re like, “How are you? No, really; how are you?” And someone would tell you how they really were: “I’m stressed out about this. And I’m thinking about that.” It felt like we had been through this trauma, all of us together but all in our different ways, so we delved right into the meat of any sort of conversation.
Maybe it’s because there’s not much to chitchat about because the world is such a shit show right now anyway, but I do feel like we have been through something with this group. We crawled our way, and we survived, and we made it through, and we’ll move on to do another show.
Regular readers might recognize Mark Larson’s name from when he was a guest on Shop Talk S01E07: Changing Your Narrative.