BWW Interview: GOING DARK, Part 6 - Ian Marcontell and Jimmy Mavrikes
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the performing arts is being felt all over the country. In part six of GOING DARK, a New York City based actor and a DC Based actor/director/teacher give their take on the pandemic and its effect on the theatre community. These interviews, conducted via email to respect the CDC's social distancing recommendations, shed light on what is sure to be the darkest period in performing arts history. Broadway shut down, followed closely behind by regional theatres, national tours, and university productions. This pandemic has changed the landscape for the arts in America, possibly forever. These are the real, unfiltered stories from performing artists, in their own words. This is the human fallout from COVID-19.
This is GOING DARK.
BWW: What is the atmosphere like in New York right now? Are people on edge? Have you been able to maintain a sense of normalcy in your day-to-day life?
IM: To say that people are on edge I think would be accurate; in a city defined by its own density and energy, it's a big change, to say the least, for everyone to have to stay inside and limit their interactions. But of course, these precautions are vital right now, even though it has essentially flipped what we have considered to be normalcy on its head.
BWW: What self-care techniques are you employing and leaning on to get through these uncertain times?
IM: Overall I have taught myself to just be more aware of little things here and there- a person touches their face an average of over twenty times per day, so I have to actively fight against that almost instinctual response. I of course wash my hands much more often than I am used to, a practice that I will hopefully normalize for the rest of my life because good personal hygiene is important. I also make an effort to ask people if they are "no contact," just so I can be fully aware of where the people around me are at in terms of their own social distancing and safety habits.
BWW: Are there any tv shows/movies or music you'd recommend during the quarantine?
IM: Nothing specific, because that would just take hours. But now with no excuse not to, I've been getting into watching shows, movies, and listening to music that at points in the past I've thought seemed interesting, but just didn't have the interest in watching them at the time, just to add some variety!
BWW: What do you think the rebuild process will be like for the theatre world?
IM: I have nothing but faith that whatever the process is, regardless of how long it might take, it will be done with swiftness, efficiency, and thoughtfulness. We're a strong community, and we support and look out for our own, so I have no doubt that when we are able to get back to sharing our art and creations with the public, we will jump back into it headfirst, and more ready than ever.
BWW: What was it like having to close an active show in the wake of the virus outbreak? Do you have plans to reopen once this pandemic passes?
JM: Since we perform out of a school, it happened fast. And because it felt like we were one of the first to announce closing early, it was devastating. Obviously so many other people are affected by this now, but at the time I really felt like we were letting down our performers, designers, and staff... Of course, now we see how necessary it was for us to close early, but it still hurts. We hope to reopen! The blessing is that nothing else happens in the space we perform until our summer show in June, so we can just leave everything there for the time being... It's just the unknown of when this will all be over.
BWW: How has this affected you financially, as a full-time artist with side jobs that are also on hold?
JM: As a company, we (Monumental Theatre Company), were selling really well, and actually had hopes to announce an extension rather than a closing notice, so that was pretty disappointing. But, so many of our patrons were gracious enough to let us keep their ticket money as a donation, which helps. As a smaller company, about half of our finances come from ticket and bar sales, so you can understand how we're feeling. As an individual, I've had my performing opportunities cancelled into May, hoping more don't get cancelled. I also serve tables when I don't have an acting gig, and all Maryland restaurants are closed right now, so I'm out of a job there, too. In addition to all of that, this semester I am directing a high school version of Cinderella. For now, the show is cancelled, but we are exploring other ways to keep the performing arts alive for these kids while they are doing online classes. The school is 100% boarding, so it's a bit of a tricky situation since kids come from all over, different time zones and such. What a wild time right now...
BWW: What is the atmosphere like in DC? Are you holding up in the midst of all the chaos?
JM: It's pretty somber. We understand why this is all necessary, but we're still allowed to be sad for our lost shows. I think a lot of us know that this will affect us in more ways than we even realize right now: more shows cancelled, shows postponed that will now conflict with other shows, the Helen Hayes Awards for next year, and so many more.
BWW: What are some small things that are bringing you comfort right now?
JM: Thinking about the future and the shows that will be created by so many well-rested artists! Lol!