BWW Interview: GOING DARK, Part 15 - Jake Rydell
The United States is currently the epicenter for the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 200,000 diagnoses have been made, with more positive tests coming back every day. This new, unprecedented time in our country and world have created changes and uncertainty. The "new normal" we're living with now includes terms like social distancing, sheltering in place, and quarantine. Flattening the curve is our main priority, and it's all we can do to prevent contracting and spreading the virus. While we wait for a vaccine, or a treatment, or a cure, the only option is to cancel all large gatherings. This necessary decision has absolutely wrecked the performing arts industry. Artists, technicians, writers, and directors all over the country are left without work. GOING DARK is an exclusive interview series that seeks to find out what life is like now for those artists. In their own words, they explain the uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, and concern we can all relate to. Part 15 features actor Jake B. Rydell.
This is GOING DARK.
BWW: What were you working on that was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Did you also have auditions planned that were canceled or postponed?
JR: I was on tour with The Diary of Anne Frank when - in the middle of our Detroit stop - we got word that the venue was closing and all of our remaining performances with it. Additionally, I had a few shows in and around New York City scheduled - Junie B. Jones The Musical, which was scheduled to begin performances this past weekend, and another show I don't think I can talk about - all canceled. That's a huge chunk of my income and art for nearly half the year just gone. In-person auditions started waning around the same time, and even though video auditions are still happening (in huge numbers by comparison to how it was previously), the community has had to do a lot of restructuring and replotting that I think it is still figuring out. It's a period of uncertainty at the personal and structural level to say the least.
BWW: Have you been able to find work outside of theatre during this downtime? How are you staying busy?
JR: Even the work I do on the side has been canceled - I teach theatre and dance, primarily to students who tend to be immune-compromised, so we shut that down quickly for their safety (but we are working on some online solutions). I also do some work in hospitality, and that entire industry is at a standstill currently, so there's not really a lot of work for me to do in any facet. It's been tough. I've mainly been trying to focus on my writing and maintaining the skills I need in my career so that when this is over with, I won't have as harsh of a readjustment period to deal with. And baking. So much baking.
BWW: Looking to the future, what role would you most like to play when finally given the chance again?
JR: Looking to the future is sort of all I've been doing - in an ideal world, I'd love to play Orpheus in Hadestown if they're hiring, but I'd really be happy to just be on a stage again.
BWW: What has the general atmosphere been like where you live and work?
JR: Things have been eerie. There's not really any comparison to the degree of uncertainty and (justified) paranoia in the air, but we must push on in spite of it - even if that means just biding time at home until this is over - we have to protect each other at all costs.