COVID-19 : Impacts on the Performing Arts Industry and What Action to Take

Author: Raquel Alder
Written for Audition Quest

Uncertainty has fallen upon many as the Covid-19 virus continues to affect people from all walks of life across the globe. An indefinite intermission has been put into place for many in the Performing Arts industry- forced to hang up their shoes, their microphones, their scripts and retreat to self-isolation and social distancing. It’s an uncomfortable and desolate time we begrudgingly face as we see unemployment and fear spread just as fast as Covid-19 itself. It’s been distressing watching our beloved theatres we once called home, close their auditoriums doors and have contracts suddenly cut short. 

From Musicians to Dancers, Singers to Performers, Freelancers, Teachers, Directors and Choreographers – you name it – many of us have been affected by the pandemic. These are unstable times and the entertainment industry is suffering increasingly as a result. 

But it’s not all gloom and doom for the entertainment industry.

Shedding a small glimmer of hope onto the situation, some companies are predicting that once the main wave of the virus has died down, people will dash to get their businesses, events, weddings, tours, exhibitions and shows back up and running, causing a switch from a tumbleweed-filled industry to one of abundance- bringing bountiful jobs and opportunities to freelancers and performers. Our job, therefore, is to ensure we are ready for when this happens. 

What can we do as Artists to make the most out of our current precarious situation? Though things are unpredictable moving forward, we can expect to have some (hopefully productive) time on our hands. Therefore, staying focused is essential for not going mad as the hatter and being prepared for the moment we rise from the dusty dark corners of our living rooms, ready to hit the entertainment scene stronger – not weaker. You are urged not to waste away this abundance of free time by becoming a couch potato, binging Netflix like it’s your job (though it may currently feel like it) and stuffing your face for the next three fickle months, undoing the hard work you’ve put in to keep yourself flexible, fit and ready to bust out an audition worthy of a standing ovation. Think about what goals you can implement in your daily routine to keep yourself show-ready for when the doors of opportunity fling back open. 

COURSE OF ACTION 

Be prepared for opportunity: Success is when preparation and opportunity meet. When you prepare yourself for opportunity, you are more prone to success. When opportunity presents itself and you are not prepared, it’s unlikely you’ll receive success as a result.

Implement a daily routine: It’s devastatingly likely that you’ve had an audition or job cancelled recently due to Covid- 19. By implementing and committing to a daily routines and at-home fitness practice, professionals in the industry can work to maintain their skills and remain athletically sculpted for performances when they become reinstated. Enforce a routine to aid the betterment of your talent and catapult yourself into improvement. 

Start with writing down a day-to-day list of goals to assist in your overall mission and MAKE yourself complete each one. It doesn’t matter whether it’s implementing one hour of mat pilates and one hour of stretching every morning, or a 30-minute Ab Blast routine and 30 minutes of cardio, two hours of singing practice and breathing exercises, or a full performance of Hairspray in your bedroom while your cat confusedly judges you.

Whatever your daily goals may be, STICK TO THEM.

My not-so-secret routine consists of 30 minutes’ minimum of core exercises, full body cardio workout or a mat Pilates session (a daily rotation to focus on different muscle groups) and 30 minutes’ minimum of stretching to maintain flexibility. I prepare to start on the hour, I set a timer on my phone and I do not allow myself to compromise.

Reflection is also an encouraging method I use to track my progress and observe my achievements. I simply write a completion list at the end of each day of personal goals I’ve conquered and I reflect on them. Nightly documentation of your completed daily goals will encourage the quantity of your productivity to grow. You will begin to notice with each nightly reflection that your list of completed goals has become longer. Be conscious and notice your daily wins. It will certainly keep you motivated during this tough time and guide you towards a fulfilling career. 

Continue scouting castings and opportunities: Though there is currently an obvious lull in the entertainment industry, you’re encouraged to continue scouring your usual digital sources for information, castings and job opportunities. Step up your online networking by putting yourself out there. Invite yourself to various performance pages and actually remember to post. Reach out to potential collaborators with career boosting project ideas. Catch attention and create interest. Don’t feel defeated because you think there is no current work. The almighty gods of the entertainment world will open up the heavens and eventually deliver their downpour of opportunity on casting sites and social platforms, and when they do, you’ll want to be first in line prepared to put your best self forward. 

Video Audition Advice: Though we may not be able to currently gather for auditions, some companies are still holding video castings. For singers and actors, this is obviously an easier task to perform than dancers needing to bust out a full blown jazz routine or 32 fouettés in a tiny apartment living room.

Adding some glorious natural light and positioning your camera or phone well to clearly see your dazzling performance is a good rule to remember when creating a self-tape. So long as you’re not filming on a 1999 camcorder, you should be fine, plus companies and directors can appreciate that we’re all trying to work around these secluded conditions. It’s also important to remain as professional as possible. If you have an online video casting opportunity, do as you would at an open audition. State your name and age, your analytics, recent experience (if you have any) and try to show some personality but keep it short and sweet. Do your hair, wear your red lip, put your fishnets on, warm up properly and PERFORM. Pounce on every casting opportunity like you would normally to keep yourself in the game. It is also recommended that you use this time wisely to cut, edit and update your Show Reel if you have one, as you will likely need them for more and more castings in the upcoming months. 

Seize the occasion to create: With artists out of work and desperate to take financial matters into their own hands, we are beginning to see an array of weird and wonderful businesses, services and projects blossoming out of this anti-social period. People are finally kicking procrastination’s butt and working on that lightbulb idea they had four years ago. It’s time to get rid of the nonsense excuses and give yourself permission to begin. New plays will be born, scripts will be written, costumes will be sewn and choreography will be choreographed. New beautiful art in all forms will be invented in our makeshift home studios, but only if we take the creative leap. Allow your passions to outweigh your fears and remember, the next best time to begin is now

Finally, in times of hardship, coming together as a community has the potential to lighten lives and brighten smiles. Let us encourage creativity by flooding our digital feeds with colourful art, sharing inspiration and empowering our fellow performers to stay headstrong in these uncertain times, as it is vital to us and the health of our industry. Yes, Coronavirus is affecting all walks of life, but we will not allow it to tear us from our passions and paths. We showbiz kids must learn to adapt and find ways to audition, perform, create and innovate. It is our proud duty to ourselves and the cultural welfare of the Arts. 

Raquel Alder – Professional Dancer and Performance Mentor

Raquel Alder, Professional Dancer from Australia, has been performing in the industry for 9 years. She recently finished a contract with the famous Parisienne cabaret, the Moulin Rouge, among performing in an array of dance contracts and productions world-wide. With extensive experience on stage, Raquel continues to fulfil a satisfying career in dance performance and coaching in the UK and Europe. 
www.pro-performer.com

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