“We are all in this together” serves as the recurring theme for the current crisis threatening our society, whether addressing the advance of COVID-19 or appropriate responses to the encroaching dangers. This universal truth also serves as an essential component of the creative arts.
If you are part of a musical ensemble, your unique contribution is essential to a successful performance, even if your only requirement is to strike a triangle at the exact right moment. Ballet dancers can suffer serious injury if a partner fails to perform the correct move at the precisely anticipated moment. And of course, in theatre, “there are no small parts” is a long-held and famous axiom which carries over into real life; when one participant fails to perform their expected role, disaster can ensue.
One of my most embarrassing (and regrettable) moments occurred when I was a member of the ensemble singing in Darke County Civic Theatre’s outstanding production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s greatest musical, Evita. The finale soars to a stirring crescendo interrupted by a dramatic moment of silence; in most of Lloyd Webber’s music, the same song is repeated in varying versions, and the finale was no exception to that rule. While performing the final powerful version of “A New Argentina” I was so enthralled by the wonder of it all—the soaring music, the intensifying dramatic effect, the beauty of the experience—that I momentarily forgot that this was the time when we rested before proceeding, a mistake resulting in the intended stirring silence being shattered by a lone soprano voice earnestly moving ahead at full volume. None of my fellow performers were anything but kind to me about the gaffe, but I still carry the shame of my faux pas which diminished the grandeur of the excellent work of the entire cast and crew. We were, and are, all in this together, depending on others who are also depending on us, for the greater good of all—succeeding together, and sometimes failing together.
The nature of the pandemic also brings to mind the universal truth that we can’t predict what the future holds, a fact that we know to be true but pretty much ignore most of the time. Not only do we struggle to do our best while not knowing what will happen next, we are in a new and unique situation without any precedents to consider and possibly follow. Individuals are doing their best to do their part whether that means practicing social distancing or continuing to work at an essential job. This moment in time when we don’t know for sure how to act feels to me like improvisational theatre, in that each person acts without a clue as to what will happen next, moving ahead with hope and confidence that others will do their part—whatever that may be.
Knowing what to do right now may not be possible, but we can still support each other by sharing small joys. Birds chirp their cheerful songs; sprightly crocus and jaunty daffodils are showing up to remind us that we are surrounded by beauty. Music abounds around us, magically illustrating the truth of the old Spanish proverb: “He who sings frightens away his ills.”
Darke County Center for the Arts, as well as other arts presenters, continues to work through the uncertainty of the present to try to meet the demands of the future without a clear sense of what that future holds, just as individuals make plans to make it through the unknown. Please continue to support the arts in whatever ways you are able. The arts will continue to enrich our lives, offering us comfort as well as the inspiration to face whatever lies ahead, and continuing to make us aware of a universal truth: We are all in this together.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.