BWW Interview: GOING DARK, Part 13 - Blake Sauceda
GOING DARK is a one of a kind interview series that focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the performing arts. As the endless quarantine/shelter in place response continues, artists are left out of work. Students are left with no chance to perform, audition, or walk across the stage for graduation. In a world of unknowns, the artists are left voiceless. GOING DARK seeks to return a bit of control back to those artists. In their own words, they describe their experiences with cancellations, postponements, and uncertainty. These are the raw, un-pretty, real stories behind an unprecedented crisis. Part 13 features Oklahoma City University student Blake Sauceda.
This is GOING DARK.
BWW: What were you working on that was canceled or postponed because of the pandemic? What was the atmosphere like when the cancellations started to happen?
Sauceda: At the time everything was cancelled, me and around 30 other people were working on Spamalot at Oklahoma City University. I think it's safe to say that we were all in disbelief when we caught on. First, our university was shut down, and we were forced to evacuate campus within a few days' notice. We were only suspended from returning for approximately three weeks (which included our spring break). Although those weeks accounted for a huge chunk of rehearsal time, the creative team still had plans to continue to rehearse once we returned, in hopes of eventually putting the show up in time. We found out shortly after that it wouldn't be possible since the university cancelled in-person classes, meaning that the show would cease to be put on in April. Spamalot, along with our New York Showcase (and countless other shows and events), would never come to fruition. We were stunned, confused, and saddened.
BWW: What are some ways you're staying healthy and happy during these dark times? Has it been a struggle to stay focused?
Sauceda: I've been trying my best to stay motivated during the day by keeping up with my online classes and keeping track of deadlines. Although the workload is technically equivalent to before, there isn't the same energy behind a screen as there is in-person. I mean, I love having dance class online as much as the next guy, but at the end of the day, tapping in my kitchen isn't the same as tapping in a studio. It just isn't. On the flipside, I've been trying to keep my creative mind alive by writing and developing plays that have been floating around my head for what feels like years. Having the time to sit down and organize these ideas has been something I haven't always had the privilege of utilizing. In a way, some of these pieces may not have been worked on as intensely had it not been for these recent events.
BWW: How do you think the theatre world will be different after this? Do you think it'll bounce back or have a bit of a rebuild phase?
Sauceda: For one, I think we will all have a newer sense of priority moving forward. This outbreak has shown us all what is important and what isn't, while still reminding us why we perform in the first place. In a backwards, devil's-advocate way of thinking, I think we'll find that this outbreak has been a blessing in disguise. We've all realized how much we need each other, and I don't think we'll take each other, or the theatre, for granted ever again. At the end of the day, we grow with each other, not six feet apart.