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BWW Blog: No One Is Alone

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I decided to explore this idea of togetherness, while still being apart for this blog post. 

BWW Blog: No One Is Alone

In this world we live in now, it can feel like we are floating all alone on an island. Personally for me it has felt like I am the only one going through what I am going through. In actuality, the more I have talked to my peers and my friends has made me realize that we are all going through this together.

I decided to explore this idea of togetherness, while still being apart for this blog post.

I interviewed three of my good friends, Amaya Mack, Samantha Campbell, and Tricia Lazatin, and asked them each the same set of questions. When reading their responses back, the similarities in each answer made me realize how connected we all are even when it may not feel like it.

All three of these women are currently attending classes in person, and are back on campus at Niagara University. For my first question, I asked them simply how life has been since being back on campus this fall?

AM: "It's been strange. It feels familiar, but so different at the same time. I'm glad to be back even though I miss how things used to be last year, but I know all the changes are for our safety."

SC: "Life has been crazy. Between zoom calls and in-person classes there is more work than ever. My brain is flustered non-stop thinking about my schedule and where I have to be when. I am so grateful to be back on campus this semester, but honestly it is sad. I want to give everyone a big hug, and I'm not even a hugger! It's sad to be around all these wonderful people and feel so distant at the same time. Life is different, but I am grateful for every day."

TL: "I would say I've had a pretty smooth adjustment coming back this fall. I will say that it feels surreal to be back on campus again... sometimes I feel as though I shouldn't be back on campus yet. I find myself being more aware of my surroundings and following the safety regulations implemented by the university. Complete your daily health check before arriving on campus. Wiping down your desk and chair is the first thing you do when you walk into/leave class. Hand sanitizer is your best friend. Back up masks are needed. Drinking water in class feels wrong. Following the proper entrances and exits in a building. Making sure you're connected to the WIFI for your online classes in the middle of the day. This has become the new norm and it may be like this for a while."

I can imagine if I went back on campus, I would have similar thoughts to all of them. I already struggled with some of those thoughts when deciding whether or not to go back. It was interesting to hear some insight into how it has been on campus.

I was curious to see if there was something somewhat positive about being on campus, so my next question was what were they each looking forward to the most when coming back to campus? And here is what they said:

AM: "I was looking forward to just having something to do again. Life during quarantine was pretty boring and repetitive, so I just really needed to feel productive and have something to fill my time again."

SM: "I was most looking forward to seeing people. I swear all I did all summer was work, so it felt like school was going to be a break for me (HAHA!). I also really was looking forward to the classes I am taking this semester. My body needs to dance, so I am beyond ecstatic to be in the studio everyday doing just that after a five month hiatus. I love seeing people, I love dancing, and I love a good schedule. A schedule keeps me moving and motivated, so that was definitely something I was ready for."

TL: "I was looking forward to having some sense of familiarity. I was excited to walk through campus. I was excited to see familiar faces again. I was excited to see the sunsets on campus. I was excited to feel like I was part of something again. After being away for so long, it was nice to be able to see friends, professors, and faculty in person, rather than through a small

computer or phone screen."

Feeling that sense of normalcy is a common theme among all of us right now. Specifically, just going back to class sans computer screens was a blessing in of itself, regardless of how odd the experience would be. From these answers, just simply being on campus was what was revered the most.

I took a turn with this next question. While still being similar to the last question, I wanted to know what they were not looking forward to being back on campus?

AM: "I wasn't looking forward to the people who aren't following the new COVID policies. There aren't too many students, but there's definitely some who just refuse to follow the rules. I just wish they'd understand that even if they don't want to follow the rules for others' own well beings, they should at least do it for themselves because we'll get sent home if it gets out of hand."

SC: "I was scared to go back to school. Not only because of the coronavirus, but also, I had not been in a school setting in over five months. I was worried about what my classes and our shows would look like. I had no idea what to expect."

TL: "Homework... I'm kidding (but not really). I was most worried about having all the students back on campus. Before, having thousands of kids on campus was not a big deal. However, with COVID, thousands of kids on one campus sounds like a nightmare. I see news articles and there are reports of other universities and schools shutting down and switching back to remote learning after the first week of the semester. I can't help but wonder.. "What if that happens to us?" It's scary to think about sometimes."

This fear of the unknown haunts us all. This fear of others not following protocols and regulations is terrifying. I understand these feelings. Even being at home, I am still frightened of the similar things. I know on a college campus though, those fears can be exemplified. Another thought Sam and Tricia brought up about school work is totally valid. It is the fourth week of school and I am still trying to get caught up due to the fact that it was so unclear to begin with.

As all of us are involved in theatre in some capacity, I wanted to ask some questions in regards to that. Theatre is so unknown right now. I know for me there has been some hesitation to get involved again. I wanted to hear from these ladies, as well. I asked them if there was any part of them that was nervous to come back and be involved in theatre again?

AM: "Not really, I knew that our department wouldn't make any decisions that endangered us. I think the theatre department at NU has made good decisions regarding COVID, especially compared to some theatre companies that are still putting on fully staged "regular" productions. At NU, we are doing virtual, completely socially distant productions. Everything has been redesigned so that it is safe for the crews and casts."

SC: "Oh yeah, for sure. My last show was about a year ago, that is a long waiting period. The theatre faculty and staff told us the shows would be all virtual - "well what does that even mean?", were my exact thoughts. Seriously, I was like what the world are we doing here, there are so many ways this "virtual theatre" stuff could go."

TL: "Are you kidding me? Absolutely. It was difficult for me to come to this realization because theatre has been a part of my life for so long, so why would I be nervous to become involved again? I came to this realization when I made the choice not to audition for shows in the Fall Semester. As silly as it's going to sound, I became somewhat afraid to come back to campus and not have the same love for theatre that I had before. I found myself losing

motivation to become involved again. I found myself losing an interest. I found myself questioning my abilities to come back and be as "strong of a performer" as I was before. Being that hard on yourself and doubting your own abilities really takes a toll on you after a while. However, after being back on campus for about three weeks, I'm beginning to find my purpose in theatre again."

I am thankful for NU and their efforts to still do some type of theatre, and to Amaya's point, they are doing everything they can to ensure our safety. One thing Tricia pointed out was this idea of needing to come back as the same "strong performer" as before and that really stuck out to me. I have felt the same way. There was so much talk of "bettering yourself" during quarantine, especially with theatre artists in the sense that we needed to keep creating and working on our craft. While I somewhat agree that is always important, during a pandemic finding that drive to do it was and still is difficult. It is okay to not be "perfect". Pandemics don't happen every day. This is new territory for us all, and allowing ourselves to grow as we go is important.

In that same sense, I wanted to know if because of this pandemic and the shut downs of theatres etc., has it changed the outlook you have on theatre for the future?

AM: "I know that a lot of people seem to be losing hope in theatre because of this, but if anything it has strengthened my faith in it. I don't think theatre can ever die. It is one of the only things that has been constant throughout all of human history in one way or another. We'll come back and we'll be stronger. Seeing people in all parts of the industry continue to

find ways to keep doing what they love is so inspiring. It proves how resilient we are. I'm so happy that a lot of people in the industry are taking this time to reflect on how to make our community better, especially in regards to BIPOC inclusion. As a black woman, this makes me hopeful that things can be improved by the time I can enter the business. I'm so proud of this community and there's no other place that I'd rather call home."

SM: "Theatre is so under appreciated. Honestly. During the shutdown what did we all do? We hopped on Netflix and binged a bunch of shows. People, this is art. We turned to art in times of suffering and discomfort. The future for theatre is hopeful. I confidently believe that whenever it is that theaters open again, there will be much more appreciation for everything involved. I sure know I will be emotional the next time I am able to step on a stage without a mask, performing for an audience. That is going to feel so good."

TL: "I think that a new side of theatre is going to be discovered. The emergence of virtual theatre brings a new aspect to what you can do with live theatre. Though it will bring challenges, it also brings new creative avenues and outlets. Theatre is constantly changing and evolving as a way to adapt to current times and I think this is just part of the journey."

I love my friends. Hearing these answers made me so hopeful. I have felt so down about even the idea of theatre. I haven't wanted to see a future. However, reading these answers made me realize there is. There is hope. It will be back.

Lastly, to end I wanted to ask if there were any recommendations they had for staying creative even when things feel bleak?

AM: "It's okay to not be creative all the time. Sometimes just consuming art is what you need to do, rather than pushing out art when you feel that you can't. Throughout quarantine, I had bouts where I felt very creative and others where I felt like I wanted to throw out my sketchbook. Overall, I wasn't very productive in the typical sense of the word. However, what I did do was listen to a lot of new cast albums and learn about and watch a lot of new shows. As an aspiring costume designer, I also focused on learning more about costuming. I also continued to expand my fashion history knowledge. Sometimes just learning about your craft, and not necessarily practicing, is what you need to do. It's a way to strengthen your skills without pushing yourself to create when you shouldn't be."

SC: "At the end of the day you have to do what makes you happy. For a lot of us theatre folk that is finding a creative outlet. Things may seem bleak now, but there are better days coming. Know that, and go do what you love full-heartedly. Go sing a new song, dance a new dance, and try a new show. Theatre will be as it was (maybe even better perhaps), but until that day, we will keep creating and growing."

TL: "Take your time. Find inspiration and keep going. As simple or vague as it may sound, just keep going. Creativity is something that we all have inside of us, it's something that makes us all unique. With trying times like now, it's easy to doubt your creative abilities and potentially give up on something that you haven't even started. Take your time and find something that sparks inspiration inside you."

The biggest thing I think we all can take away from these answers is that it is okay to not be creative all the time. It is okay to just be. If you are not feeling inspired, do not feel down. You cannot force yourself to be creative. It has to happen naturally. This is such a great reminder for anytime, but especially right now. I have felt like not being inspired was a bad thing. I have felt like I have been in the wrong. That is not the case at all. These women have reminded me that better things are coming. They have inspired me to keep going, to keep believing. I am so grateful for the people that are around me. They make me thankful I am alive.

I think that remembering we truly are not alone is what we need to remember most. It can feel so dark, and gloomy. Knowing there are people, even our closest friends, who are feeling similar to

how you are feeling is extremely comforting. Make sure you are reaching out to your friends, and checking in on them. Feeling connected, even miles away, is a good sentiment for us all. We can come together regardless of a pandemic trying to tear us apart, never forget that.

And know that someone is on your side...no one is alone.



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From This Author Student Blogger: Josie Reynolds