Behind the Curtain: Interview With 'The Backstage Blonde' - Teale Dvornik
Due to the global health emergency, Broadway theaters have found their bright lights dimmed and their houses dark for the first time in history. As the world works together to stop the spread of COVID-19, the theater industry has been put on hold indefinitely - theaters around the world have closed their doors in compliance with social distancing rules, and Broadway has been shut down in full since March 13. The Broadway shutdown has impacted the lives of all who work in theater industry, who are now facing uncertain and unprecedented circumstances.
In our Behind the Curtain interview series, we are speaking with Broadway musicians, stage managers, ushers, bartenders, and more, talking about how they are handling the current circumstances, and discussing the impact that the shutdown has had on the Broadway community.
Today, our Behind the Curtain interview is with 'The Backstage Blonde', Teale Dvornik.
What is your job title? Tell me about what you do within the theater industry and how long you've been doing it for.
I am a Broadway Dresser and proud member of the Theatrical Wardrobe Union Local 764.
I've worked on Broadway for about 5 and a half years! My resume includes Wicked, Aladdin, The Prom, Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, On The Town, The Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular and New York Fashion Week.
What were you working on when the shutdown was put in place?
When Broadway shut down, I was a full time member of the Wardrobe Department at the musical Wicked as a Female Ensemble Dresser.
What has communication been like since the shutdown with the people you were working with? Have you continued to maintain contact with them?
Even though social media can be a dark place sometimes, I think it has been everyone's saving grace during the Broadway shutdown. It's helped our tight-knit community stay in touch, encourage each other and relay important industry information. The Broadway community is a beautiful network of colleagues and friends who have become family, and I'm lucky to be a part of it. Whenever the future looks hopeless I can call up any of my Broadway friends and be reminded that I'm not alone. We are weathering this terrible storm together.
How do you feel that people in the theater community have come together during this time?
Every member of the Broadway community has worked tirelessly for most of their lives to reach this level of theatrical excellence and make their dreams come true. It was deeply devastating when our jobs abruptly ended and our once thriving and bustling community evacuated NYC. Everyone was suddenly scattered across the country when we normally live and work within the same few blocks. Thankfully, the theatrical community has stayed close and supportive throughout this time, from helping to answer questions about unemployment benefits, to rallying together in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
What ways have you found to best deal with the current circumstances?
I am a highly driven and motivated person and a problem solver who works well under pressure - qualities I use every day as a good Dresser! It's so frustrating that there is literally nothing I can do to fix these bleak circumstances and get us our jobs back. I have worked hard to accept this new temporary reality, am exercising almost every day for my mental health, have raised money for BC/EFA and The Actors Fund, and am continuing to create content on my Instagram.
How do you think this will change the world of theater going forward?
I believe the world of live theater is going to be much more intentionally diverse moving forward. Over the past month, Broadway engaged in long overdue conversations about the inequality and racism that still plague our industry and, because of the Broadway shutdown, we've had the time to really sit back and analyze our actions as well as listen to the Black members of our community. I think the desire to amplify Black voices and stories should only grow from here and I'm looking forward to seeing the concrete, actionable steps we all decide to take together to make that happen! Once Broadway reopens I think the Theater District will be overtaken by an electric energy we have never experienced before.
Do you have anything else you would like to share?
I would like to say thank you and I love you to all the wonderful Broadway fans out there! I absolutely cannot wait to be standing backstage on the first night Broadway is back and hear you all screaming from the audience as the overture starts to play. Thinking about it gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes.