All San Diego theaters remain dark as the COVID-19 pandemic proceeds.
Much like an Act 1 finale, audiences are left wondering what happens next and when will the intermission end? Performers and their production teams and management are wondering, as well. Now, what we know for sure is that the vibrant San Diego creative and performing arts community is united and committed to the fundamental promise that the “show must go on.”
Social distancing and government orders to shut down public meeting places have inspired performances during the pandemic to move online across social media platforms.
The San Diego Virtual Cabaret has grown to more than 750 followers combined on its Facebook and Instagram pages. The digital stage is administrated by Actors’ Equity Association member William Robinson, who is known to local audiences as both a professional actor and musical director. Robinson has invited actors, dancers, instrumentalists, impersonators, and singers to share their own content often created in makeshift performance spaces at home under the current quarantine. In a recent Facebook post, Sara Ah Sing performed the chilling ballad “I’d Give My Life for You” from the musical “Miss Saigon.” She also posted support for the community, “Hey peeps. I love the idea and spirit of this page so much. Creating has really helped me in this weird time. And when your best friend is a kickass pianist, there are almost no limits. Thank you for letting me share.” All content is welcomed from performers of any level. The page is listed as a private group but visible to anyone who wants to be invited to join.
Theatre Is the Cure is launching a San Diego-based international virtual theatrical event.
The inaugural livestream kicks off Friday, March 27, at 6:30 p.m. PST. Theater artists worldwide will come together to share live performances with audiences everywhere in the comfort of their own homes or wherever they have access to Wi-Fi. This is an online pay-what-you-can event, and all proceeds will be distributed to participating artists that have been financially impacted by the pandemic. Thirty playwrights will write one original monologue each. Thirty directors will be matched with a script and one of 30 actors to rehearse via teleconference, culminating in a livestream of performances.
The event is produced by Logan Squared Productions, known for “That 24-Hour Thing,” which wraps the San Diego International Fringe Festival every year. Hannah Logan is at the helm of the project working with her graphic design partner, Ron Logan. She says, “We already have people responding from all over the world — Venezuela, Italy, and Australia. A director who has the virus is joining us as a participant. This is a worldwide crisis, but theater is the cure. Our venues were shut down, but let’s create a worldwide theater pandemic bringing entertainment, inspiration, humor, hope, and faith into homes everywhere. Your home is our theater.” For more information, email Logan at email@example.com
The coronavirus has led to a new world isolation fueling social media according to a study from the online influencer agency Obviously (www.obvious.ly). The group analyzed 260 of their own campaigns, including more than 7.5 million Instagram posts and data from 2,152 TikTok influencers. The research found a 76% increase in daily accumulated likes on Instagram posts over the last two weeks. The trend is continuing here in San Diego, too.
On Tuesday nights, usually nestled beneath an East Village pub, there are true creative juices flowing. Amplified Ale Works at Island Avenue and 14th Street is known for its beer and brick-oven pizzas. What you won’t find on the menu is the extra serving of original poetry, articulate sounds in a piece of spoken word, or maybe some pages read aloud from a still-to-be-published novel. “We are all about creating an inclusive community, where creatives of all levels can come be connected and supported,” says Sunny Rey, a published poet herself and the founder of Poets Underground. Because of the pandemic, she has now taken the underground community online every Tuesday and Thursday evening until further notice. She continues, “Poets Underground offers a space of retreat, rest, venting and safe support. Our guests refer to our usual Tuesday night events as ‘church’ or ‘therapy group.’ Whatever we are to each person, I can promise safe expression and genuine care. That will not change online or be suppressed by a virus outbreak.” The open-mic opportunity livestreams on Instagram at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Kristen Fogle is president of ACT (Association of Community Theaters of San Diego County). “I think it’s so important for us to support our local arts organizations and businesses as much as possible right now. If you have a reservation for something that has been canceled, consider letting the theater or arts organization keep your money as a donation.” She also has another suggestion: “Teaching artists and everyone in our community is losing work over this. Please consider hiring one of them to do work for you. They can tutor your kids, clean up your website, whatever. These individuals have so many skills and they are so incredibly deserving of our generosity right now.”
M.G. Perez is founder of the San Diego Theatre Connection and creator of the Community OMG blog www.communityomg.tumblr.com. He is posting content in real-time as the pandemic continues. Submit theater content and story updates to firstname.lastname@example.org