Unprecedented. Unheard-of. Extraordinary. These are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the past few weeks, but I would use another word… BUSY! As I practice being “safer at home,” it seems like there is always something to do to help my theatre get through this difficult, difficult time. Scrolling through Facebook while drinking my morning coffee, I can’t relate to those who write about being bored stuck at home. For those of us who run theatre companies, it feels like the work is never ending and crucial decisions for survival need to be made every day.
A colleague of mine with Disaster Management experience recently put out a message with suggestions on how to lead during these challenging times. “Gather, consolidate, and clarify information,” was her first recommendation. “Spend time listening,” was her second. Her advice has certainly proven helpful. Whether talking to staff, reporting to my board, or commiserating with colleagues, never has communication been so needed and important.
Is it just me, or does it seem like there are now more platforms to communicate and meet on than ever before? Whether Zoom, Teams, Google Hangout, GoToMeeting, RingCentral, and good old FaceTime, those are just the business options, not to mention SnapChat, Marco Polo, and House Party.
One of the positive things to come out of this demanding time, is the way my essential work communications have inspired personal ones. While isolated, I feel lucky enough to have reconnected with friends across the country and globe. It’s never felt easier and more necessary. (Especially once I figured out multiple global time zones correctly.) In fact, every late Monday afternoon I’m able to walk away from my desk and stop working to participate in a standing Zoom “Happy Hour” with four other ASSITEJ friends. There’s a lot of listening (and laughing) going on during those catch ups. They are also a wonderful opportunity to explore the third and final point shared by my Disaster Management colleague, “Assume no one is experiencing this like you are.”
The reports and updates you are about to read from other ASSITEJ centers are also following the principles that I described above. I hope that you will spend time reading about these multiple perspectives and come away feeling connected when being apart is imperative.