BWW Interview: GOING DARK, Part 16 - John Furey
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the United States. Our entire Spring, and possibly much of the summer, is going to consist of sheltering in place and self-isolating. Social distancing is key, and only leaving our houses for essential trips like groceries and doctor appointments is recommended. Those who are used to always "doing" and "going" are having a hard time. The performing arts industry is suffering greatly, with no theatres performing live for audiences at all right now. This unprecedented cease in performance is leaving artists everywhere out of work. GOING DARK is an exclusive interview series with those out of work artists. In their own words, they tell their stories of cancellations, postponements, and endless uncertainty. They offer a unique perspective, as careers and educations built around performing for groups of definitely more than ten people at a time are all but outlawed, indefinitely. Part 16 features actor John Furey.
This is GOING DARK.
BWW: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you professionally and personally? Have you had to make major changes?
JF: Greatly! I don't think there's anyone that the pandemic hasn't touched in a profound way. I was lucky enough to not be in the middle of a show when this thing hit. Numerous folks that I'm close with have had gigs totally ripped away from them- major tours and cruises put on hold. I actually sent out a tape for the tour of Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries right before Broadway decided to shut down, which I think was the signal for the others to follow suit. As an artist in this field, my life is constantly changing, so I would say yes to the changes, but in a way, I almost think this is a little different. The change here is coming in the shape of non-doing... we're being asked to remain in place for once, rather than changing course or otherwise maintaining the hustle our society is so keen on.
BWW: What do you think this pandemic will mean for the future of the performing arts? Do you think they'll be able to bounce back from this?
JF: What's so interesting about the performing arts, especially in theatre, is that all at once there seems to be no money for anyone or anything, and then all the money in the world. Loads of artists don't get paid half of what they need to make, yet other folks within the industry make plenty. It's very expensive to produce work, and at the same time it's hard to make a return on the investment without tons of marketing and a packed house. I brought that up because the question comes to mind of whether theaters and their companies will still be able to produce work after all of this, or whether they will close. Personally, I have no idea. A safe bet would probably be to assume that the companies with tons of money backing them will stay afloat and the others will sink.
Maybe theatres as we traditionally see them will start to fade and give way for more black-box style spaces. Maybe people will begin to see streaming productions or concerts online as a normal thing. Who knows! I'm considering doing an online reading of a script that I wrote last year now that all of the folks I was looking to cast are stuck at home anyway...
BWW: Have you found that there's any particular art form that you're clinging to most right now? How is it helping you through?
JF: Music for sure: writing, singing, practicing guitar, etc. We all have our escapes. I've definitely been spending a lot of time escaping into other worlds. I think it's how we're going to stay sane throughout all of this. Do whatever you want right now and be okay with yourself. This is very tough for a lot of folks, including myself, because there is an insane amount of pressure all around to be constantly producing, and now's the time to be okay with doing nothing.