Re-Entry Syndrome: Going Back to Work as Artists
Dealing with the repercussions of the pandemic has been hard on everyone – performing artists, especially. The problem began during the initial shut down, when we were thrown out of sorts. Not having a stage to report to, a warm-up to attend, or an audition to prepare for doesn’t quite feel right. It is like losing a part of one’s self.
Today, as things begin to reopen, many of us may find ourselves facing yet another problem: insecurity.
Not only because our industry is still in danger, but on an internal and personal level. Sure, we’ve taken acting classes through video chats, met with casting directors over Zoom or FaceTime, taken ballet class using a kitchen chair as a barre, and annoyed our neighbors singing scales. We’ve done all we could to keep our instruments in the best condition possible – but will it be enough?
We’ve kept our bodies conditioned with diet and exercise, but will it be enough to face the studio mirrors? We’ve learned new monologues, but will they be perfected for the next audition? Will it be strange to look into an audience and see much fewer faces? Will we feel that is our fault? Are we still as strong as we used to be? Are we still as viable as we used to be? Do we still deserve to be here, as we used to be?
We all look forward to getting back into the swing of things. In a regular way, if not a normal one.
Going back will be mentally and physically challenging for many of us. We will have to break out of the shells we subconsciously built around ourselves, protected by the wall of distance which social media provides. Will stage fright get the better of us?
What will happen in the days, weeks and months to come is yet unknown.
As a performing artist, we need to allow this to be a re-awakening of our passion, and not just a jump in, feet-first experience. We must remind ourselves to take things one day at a time, with grace and gratitude. Even as the blisters return to our toes, we must be grateful that we can still perform those pirouettes. Even if we have to knock some rust off, we must find comfort in hitting the notes that were lying dormant, and relish the experience of being vulnerable around living beings again, even if it is terrifying. The stage lights on our skin, the reflections in the mirrors, and the camera lenses are our friends, as they have always been. Let them support us. We are artists. We have returned. We are enough.
Loren Kinsella is an award winning former soloist ballet dancer, Broadway Show performer and an active member in the film and television industry. She holds a BA, MA, and DFA in performing arts, and was considered for a Primetime Emmy® Award in 2019.
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