These are indeed strange times for humanity, as we collectively reel from the fallout that COVID-19 is continually blasting us with. To be clear, this is nothing I like to joke or about or take less-than-seriously. Not only are lives being lost, but livelihoods as well. No group knows this fearful effect more than artmakers who make most of their money through freelancing. When venues close up, the bottom falls out.

Being a member of this hardy lot, I have a Facebook that’s full of brave and resilient friends and loved ones. No, my personal situation doesn’t compare to a lot of what I’m seeing, but I can appreciate the gravity of this unforeseen situation and lend my support to all the directors, actors, producers, et al., who have had to cancel seasons and scramble to produce something, anything to keep the flame of hope alive that just maybe, art can be our best, most comforting friend in these trying times.

So what is going on with me in my own springtime endeavors? In a non-coronavirus filled wold, I was set to start rehearsals for a favorite play of mine, The Foreigner, at Lyric Arts in Anoka, Minnesota. My fiance was also set to stage manage and it was going to be a wonderful return to one of the best stages I’ve had the joy to run around on in the Twin Cities. Now, however, that show among others will be postponed until at least the fall and I can remain hopeful that I will still have the chance to revisit the role of Owen Musser.

My first take on the villain of The Foreigner, Owen Musser, at the Osceola Center for the Arts in my hometown Kissimmee, Florida in April, 2013. Directed by friend and colleague Donald Rupe.

That will be such a treat when it happens too – to be able to revisit a role you loved playing. What luck then that as The Foreigner waits in the wings, another past vehicle steps into the light.

This April 17 and 22, I will be reprising my role of Robbie in Steven Dietz’s wonderfully weird drama, Bloomsday! Better yet, it’s once again with Heartwood Regional Theater Company, directed by Griff Braley and featuring Deirdre Manning, Clifford Blake and Helena Fahri. The only difference this time around? We will be 100% virtual.

That’s what I mean by art finding a way! Heartwood’s artistic director, Griff Braley, is putting together a performance of the play that will be streamed live over the web to appreciative audiences. None of us actors will be reading our parts in the same rooms but we will rehearse and conduct ourselves the same as if we were hitting the boards together in Maine (where I have met and worked with each of these artists several times before).

The cast of the first production of Bloomsday at Heartwood Regional Theater in 2018. Pictured left to right: actors Mary Fraser, Deirdre Manning, Cliff Blake and myself. Manning, Blake and I will be returning to the play this spring for the virtual reading.

This is the kind of thing that gives me hope about how arts can still remain present in our lives. I don’t believe it’s a long term solution – art should be a physically communal experience – but it’s the best we got right now and until they reopen the playhouse, we’re going to play and live to the best of our abilities.

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