Photo by Nathanael Filbert
I had packed and repacked two suitcases over the course of three days, set my alarm for the next morning’s flight, and eaten the cookies my roommates had baked as a going-away present when I got a text from the artistic director, asking if we could talk in a half hour.
While this type of text would typically stoke my anxiety, I told myself to stay calm. Yes, things were bad in the city– I’d been preemptively quarantining for the week prior, just to be safe– but the next day, I was leaving to go be in Chicago for two months. I was getting out of New York– just in time!, everyone kept telling me; I’d even moved my flight up four days to be safe– and counting down the days to my first professional production. Through every hurdle of the first nine months of postgrad, I’d focused on this, on how lucky I was. So I wouldn’t panic. If I thought about it too much, I’d jinx it.
And then, I found out that that Chicago was in worse shape than I’d thought, that I wouldn’t be going the next day, that rehearsals wouldn’t be starting that week or anytime soon. It made sense– it makes sense, I texted my friends, my family– and considering where it seemed the world was going, it was selfish to feel sad. I was lucky– I’m lucky, I told everyone who asked– to get this extra time for revisions, to be working with the most generous, lovely team imaginable, to know that the show would still happen, albeit at a later, unknown date. But nevertheless, it took weeks before I could make myself unpack those suitcases.
We had our first read-through today on Zoom, and I let myself feel the lucky and the sad. Lucky that I got to hear my words read by this beautiful cast for the first time, sad that I heard them through crackles of expectant silence as the WiFi ebbed and flowed, most of our voices muted and faces hidden. Lucky that everyone had taken the time to stop reading the news, taking care of their families, wondering what the future would hold, to read a play. Sad that the words ring emptier without the togetherness, that the best part of theatre is lost in this strange, suspended moment. Lucky for what I got, sad for what we all were losing.
Rivendell Theatre Ensemble
Written by Madison Fiedler
Director Hallie Gordon*
Rae Gray* as Noah
Krystel McNeil* as Harper
Tara Mallen* as Aubrey
Sam Krey as Jackson
Associate Director: Kristen Osborn*
Dramaturg: Cate Yu
Production Manager: Catherine Allen
Original Music and Sound Designer: Michael Huey
Costume Design: Janice Pytel*
Lighting Design: Mike Mahlum
Scenic Design: Joanna Iwanicka
Production Stage Manager: Deya Friedman
Artistic Director/Producer: Tara Mallen
Managing Director/Producer: Jackie Banks-Mahlum
* denotes Rivendell Theatre Ensemble Members