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  • Writer's pictureJames Silverstein

Combating Corona!

Updated: Sep 5, 2020

Good morning, everyone. I’ve been anticipating the possibility of having to make this post for about a week now, but kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t come down to this. I want to preface by saying that my intentions are not to act like me or my classmates have it worse than anyone else right now, because we don’t. COVID-19 has effected each and everyone of our lives in different, but equally unimaginable ways. What we’re going through, I know hundreds of other musical theatre seniors in college, and perhaps even seniors at performing arts high schools or other arts-related programs are similarly going through. I know no matter what we’re going through, someone always has it worse. This is just another story to tell:

The concept of going to college for musical theatre, pursuing performing arts as a career, is still and always will be confusing, an unrealistic “hobby”, to some people. If you pursue theater, I’m almost positive you can relate to the relatives, friends, or peers who have hounded you with those same questions relating to: “What’s your backup plan if theater doesn’t work out?” “What can you even do with a degree in theater?” “What do you do in school all day? Sing? I wish my life was that easy.” “What do you wanna do with your life? Be on Broadway? I mean that’s all you *can* do, right?” To say that these questions can be frustrating is an understatement. But, I don’t 100% blame people for asking because, from the outside, I can imagine it’s hard to understand exactly what we do 24/7. You guys, it’s so much more than that. What I’ve devoted my blood, sweat, and tears to for the last four years is more than standing around in a studio singing show tunes with my classmates “for fun”. Of course, school is A BLAST- I wouldn’t voluntarily agree to paying off loans for the rest of my life if I was bored. But, it is just as hard work as anything else. I could write a book about how physically exhausted we are after hours of jazz, ballet, tap, and hip hop back to back to back in a days time, how mentally exhausted we are after going up in a scene and putting ourselves in the shoes of a character who is experiencing life or death circumstances in a three hour acting class, how long it took to perfect our voice and speech to the T, how crazy we drove ourselves to DRAFT a dozen+ songs for our audition book, how many mock auditions we dressed up and prepared for, how many times we had to completely rethink the way our vocal chords work in order to sing a song, how many times we spent 5+ dollars on a song and the entire night before learning it just to be told to get rid of it, so on and so forth. Our work is hands on and physical. Ever since our classes were switched to online for the remainder of the semester, as of yesterday, I question how we will make it work. I know the current meme on social media is musical theater students doing their classes via Zoom. It’s hilarious and scary at the same time. Guys, this is our reality. Luckily, we’re seniors and have completed the majority of our classes, but nonetheless we don’t get to just hop online and finish the essay we have due in a few weeks. Especially the underclassmen. As hopeful as I am a solution will be found, our way of learning and life is about to be altered completely. This is how I will go out. I thought I had two and a half months left to live, breathe, and experiment in the safe space of our studios. Two and a half months to continue trying to understand myself as an artist with my insanely brilliant classmates and teachers. Two and a half months to make memories a couple more times and discover who I am before stepping into the real world. But, like a cannon, we’ve been shot out of our second home and who knows when we’ll return, if ever.

The one question I’ve found people asking me more than anything else over the last four years: “How does your school prepare you for the real world?” The amount of times I’ve explained the answer to this question, this time NOT out of frustration, being that it’s a practical and understandable concern, but out of passion and excitement is endless. For those of you who don’t know, at the end of our 4 years, the graduating seniors are guaranteed a cabaret-like showcase where we each get 90 seconds to sing a song that best showcases who we are as a way to introduce ourselves to the industry. This is an opportunity to say hi and kickstart our careers! It’s all I’ve talked about since the first day of freshman year. The reason I’m here. Our school doesn’t just throw us out into the wild. Our last semester includes an entire class dedicated to picking our “perfect” song. It’s a big deal and I am so lucky that the wonderful staff and administration at my school are currently working together to find a solution as to how they can somehow still guarantee us our 90 seconds. However, it is almost definite that the time in which it was initially scheduled will no longer be when it happens. Still praying to god it will happen at all, I can’t help but feel upset that the process won’t be the same. The *way* things were supposed to be rehearsed leading up to the big day? The process? Our world has gone virtual. This showcase is the final boss in a video game, the missing piece to the puzzle, and I ask for all of your good vibes for the class of 2020 at CAP21/Molloy, that we will get our 90 seconds to shine.

If anything, I think the most devastating part of this all is the loss of a shared space with one another. My classmates and I are close. We are a family. Like any other family, we been THROUGH it. But it’s the hard times that made us stronger. We’ve gone through so much, but I genuinely don’t know about this just yet. I’m sure we’ll see each other after college on our own accord, but as far as being in a classroom with one another exploring and creating art? That’s gone. Now we’re all at home isolating ourselves until who knows how long. I thought I’d be walking across the stage at Nassau Colosseum with them in our caps and gowns on May 18th, but now we’ll see what happens. I know staying positive throughout all of this is ideal, but I’m here to say it’s OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY!!! It’s okay to take a second when reflecting on this and to acknowledge that it sucks. That this is awful for all of us. It’s human nature to feel that way. Don’t let it defeat you, but simply acknowledge where you’re at. At the end of the day, I’m grateful that there are at LEAST online classes and the promise of a potential showcase. Whatever the conclusion is to this program, I will make the best of it, because I did not come all this way for nothing. To my classmates, y’all are badass and we’re gonna make it. We’re gonna be okay and shine even brighter than we ever thought. COVID-19 or not, we will take on the world.

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