When the lights are bright again, I’m going to take the many lessons I’ve learned throughout this pandemic and apply them to a healthier mindset to take with me to every audition, callback, performance, etc. And with that being said, I won’t go to every single audition that I can possibly go to. I won’t guilt myself for not going to every single audition possible either. I won’t think about what the people behind the table want; I will just be. I will have grieved the losses that this time has brought me, like a relationship that was going really well, but had to end because of unrelated outside forces. But I know we’re meant to be together so I will continue to look forward to our rekindling of our flame, even if looking back on our past hurts at times. I will move forward into a world where absolutes are no longer and emotional and mental fluidity is celebrated and taken care of. Where I don’t need to feel guilty for not wanting to take in any theater at all because I now know who I am without the white knuckled need of the labels that “theater” and “actor” gave me for so long. I am not my occupation, but rather my occupation is a part of me. Like a rectangle is a square, but a square is not a rectangle, my art is a part of me, but I am not my art. So it’s to take time away from it and it’s also okay to be completely and utterly enveloped in it too. Those extremes exist within me and I will go on to be a lot less judgemental of their coexistence. I will be a better person to myself and therefore a better artist.
Holding on to hope,
When the lights are bright again, you will be there. You hear me? You're gonna be there.
When the lights are bright again, how will you even look up?
I’m so angry. I’m angry that I see my own profession as non-essential, even frivolous. I look at old, peeling subway posters for Broadway shows on my commute to my temporary job at a COVID testing site, and I’m angry. I’m angry that I was so excited for something that the world has deemed unnecessary. I’m angry that I was ever excited for something so impractical, as people die by the thousands every day. I’m angry at friends who have somehow found the will to stay creative. Some have released albums, filmed, choreographed, or found new artistic paths. I haven’t sung in over a year, save for humming in the shower, and honestly, my shower sessions could use a vocal coach. I used to be proud of my accomplishments, but they feel meaningless now. Were they ever worth anything to begin with? I’m angry at jokes about out of work actors. Like we’re all a bunch of ridiculous people, and it’s a laugh to think of us trying to cope. Like we won’t be able to pay our rent, and will try to cover expenses with a tap dance, or singing for our supper. It’s not funny. My career was deleted. And I worked hard for it. It never offered me security or benefits, and I still made a living out of it. That took work. I’m angry at everyone who can see the light at the end of the tunnel that I just can’t see. I’m angry at how dramatic this sounds. Some friends booked their first Broadway contracts when theaters shuttered. Some lost family members, and couldn’t even have funerals. What’s my pain compared to that? Nothing. And I’m angry at myself for even feeling it. I’m trying to just keep going - one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. Even if it feels like walking blindly into the dark.
But I’m afraid that, when the lights are bright again, everyone else will be ready.
Everyone but me.
Well, good luck,
Dear Princess Almost,
When the lights are bright again, you will live out your dream. The time had come to find your light and do what you were once afraid to desire...and then it disappeared. Years of work had finally paid off and you were ready to let it lift your head higher. Yet the stage is not the only place to claim your title. Your inner world is what allowed a kingdom to flourish and you are even more set up to thrive than you were before. You have found strength, resilience, and patience while locked in your tower. You have found your power and remembered your worth. Your gown is waiting for you, Princess. Yet now you’ll wear it like a Queen. Have faith and trust that one day you will be covered in pixie dust. Your time will come once again, I promise.
Holding onto hope,
When the lights are bright again, you will know that this time of reflection helped you to understand just how much you love costume design. How much you love the theatre. It isn’t just work, it is a career, a way of life. Next time you read this, I hope that you are smelling the smell of the fabric stores you are shopping in, have sore feet from running around the city all day, laughing with your new friends who are also working on your show, fumbling around in the dark at your tech table to take notes and feeling just as grateful as you feel today knowing that unlike so many you are fortunate enough to pursue your dreams. You have come so far from your high school theatre competition days, to your intern and PA days, to where you are now. I hope you know how lucky you are that you were brave and strong enough to keep on this path, no matter how uncertain. I hope you always remember what it was like to walk down an empty Broadway with the lights dark, and never to complain again about the hoards of people lining the streets. I hope you always remember the tears and aching for the next time you would step into a theatre, for that was the exact moment you knew just how much it meant to you. I hope you always remember to continue to support those in your community who have watched after you and you after them during this emotional time because you were in it together. May you always know that your path as a designer was full of ups and downs, but you did it. You stayed on the path, you weathered the storm, you held your friends hands who also work in the industry, and you persevered. Future Katie, I am so proud. I hope you are working on the Broadway show of your dreams.
Holding onto hope and love,
When the lights are bright again you will weep tears of joy. This year has been so challenging and yet so rewarding. I’ve always been a person who prides themself on having many other interests other than theatre. I love books, I love food and wine and cooking. And I love DOGS! Any and every dog. I never wanted my career to be my identity. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But what I do does not define me. I was 3 previews in for a new Broadway show and exhausted when the shutdown happened. I was slightly relieved for a few weeks off. My boyfriend and I were moving apartments while both in tech and previews for new shows and the time off was very helpful. And then we quickly realized this time off was going to be much longer than a few weeks. It took a while to wrap my head around it all and my immediate response was to shut down and shut off. I deleted my public Instagram and didn’t really want to reach out and discuss it all with my peers. I needed space. And I took it. I don’t regret that for a minute but the longing set in and I missed my community and my job and my day to day life. I love what I do and I’ve always known that but this year really reminded me how MUCH I love it. This community is unlike any other and all of us who are lucky enough to work in the theatre industry know that. Whether it is community theatre, regional theatre, off Broadway or Broadway. Special people gravitate there. And tough, resilient people. I am proud to say that Broadway is a part of who I am and I will be weeping when the overture plays the downbeat of our first performance back, whenever that may be. Just as I am weeping writing this letter. With so much love to my beautiful community, I miss you. Truly miss you.
When the lights are bright again... never forget who you are.
It’s been a year. I don’t really know how I’m feeling. I’m sad and sometimes I blame everyone that my first ounce of an independent life was ripped from me right after it started, yet at the same time I’m super grateful that I had time to breathe and focus on other things.
I’m really proud of you. You were living the life you had always wanted. Your first apartment. Your first principal role on Broadway. Your first show as an adult. And three days into your first week of this life, you were put right back where you were before. You try to put on a brave face and push through all obstacles that come your way, but I know this was a hard pill to swallow. The first few months were an endless rotation of the same routine and you were still convinced that Mrs. Doubtfire would be back shortly.
You slowly found a way to get yourself out of that bubble of sadness. The second you picked up your guitar you have never looked back. Writing saved you and I want you to take my advice and never stop.
Would you have known one year ago that you are coming out with an EP this year?
Did you ever think you’d be back in college and have three more classes left until you graduate?
Did you know how much you’d cherish this time with your family?
I’m really proud of how you handled this. It was an awful thing that happened, but look at all of the things you were able to accomplish!
When the lights are bright again never forget who you are. Never forget sitting in your room writing and reading and learning new things. Never forget the good times and the times when you wanted to wake up from this scary dream. They have helped you grow as a human and as an artist. I can’t wait to watch your new human self up on that stage again.
Keep your head up.
Dear Ghost Light,
When the lights are bright again, caring won’t be over. Our love for one another and others will continue. We have learned that there aren’t just peaks and valleys in life but waves. A sea of emotions and experiences we paddle out to catch. Then one current takes us away. We get led astray then back to join our friends. “What did I miss?” Did I miss alot? Or did I just miss everyone sitting in the water, making sure we all made it. We will make it, Ghost Light.
When the lights are bright again, we will be at the theatre and look forward, backwards, behind us, under us and say, “Everyone is here.” And we will ride the waves. Swim stronger against currents that disrupt us. Because in the end we all will be together, ready to take a box for those who are watching from the shores. We will love, Ghost Light. Our hearts will be fuller. Our eyes will speak deeper. Our presence will sit fuller in spaces where we once occupied. A full house of people will mean a fuller heart. And an empty theatre will mean full possibilities for us all. We still have so many stories to tell, Ghost Light. So many voices to hear speak. And so many spaces to share with others. When the lights are bright again, the Ghost Light will remain bright, lighting the way through the darkness. So many possibilities.
Holding onto hope,
When the lights are bright again you will feel the magical power of truly healing. Your struggles will finally feel like they have past. You will feel the joys of sharing your passion, and what you have trained tirelessly to achieve since you were 5 years old. A dream you manifested and worked for was taken away by this virus. However, this love has always been more than just the shows, the costumes, and the glory. It took away connection. The feeling of sharing a space with other artists. Dance classes filled with poised and perspiring bodies. Sharing the gift of dance and inspiring one another to push a little further, give a little more, and be vulnerable with our stories. You will feel this high again. That feeling of euphoria as you pant from exhausting your limbs from reaching farther, digging deeper, and kicking higher. A glorious release where the world disappears and you can just be. Exist. Free. Your journey has been filled with ups and downs, as are most epic sagas. You are a survivor in every sense of the word. In 2014, you moved to the greatest city in the world. In 2016, you earned your place in the union by pounding the pavement earning every last point. In 2018, you booked your dream job and helped create a Broadway hit from the very beginning. You worked with people you have idolized for years and finally felt like your moment had arrived. Every dream came true. In 2019, you were face with your biggest challenge and still managed to come out on top. Fighting back from a cancerous brain tumor to dawn the stage once again. The show was the light at the end of the tunnel. Then in 2020, that dream was once again taken away by disease and fear. Now in 2021 that light at the end of the tunnel has seemed to have been extinguished. The show closed. No hope of returning to Broadway once the pandemic was over. I know this time was incredibly dark. You are a survivor. You always find a way. We all do. We fight to live and dance another day. When the lights are bright again you will feel that rush of nerves in the wings before the downbeat of the overture. You will start new adventures and meet new people who will inspire you and help you on your journey. The excitement of sitting in an audience and clutching the playbill as the lights dim. You will be reunited with so many friends, artists and colleagues who have lifted you up in times of hardship and inspired you to keep pushing. You’ll be united with those teachers that continued to invest in you even through a computer screen, never giving up on your potential and helping you continue to train. When the lights are bright again you will fill complete. Whole. It will be that opening night curtain call. Only the gratitude and joy will last longer than one night. It will live on every time the music plays and your soul moves you to dance.