One Year On...
Today, like for many in the creative industries, marks the year anniversary of the pause button being pushed on my freelance work. My local theatre closed, so youth theatre work stopped, schools were about to close, so bookings cancelled and the list goes on. I found myself for the first time in years with an empty diary. Of course, at first it felt temporary, disappointing yes, with obvious concerns about money, but not soul crushing. I was still riding off the energy of the last few hectic months of work and was caught up in a wave of enthusiasm to keep going, finding new ways to reach out and offer something freely that might provide a little distraction to the negative, frightening flood of insecurity that the pandemic was bringing into all our lives.
On a personal level aside from work, I was enjoying the new found time with my family, especially spending time with my husband who had been away on tour and it was fun home-schooling as it was nearly the Easter holidays and it wouldn’t be for long. Everything felt like a good challenge, buoyed along by a national, even global sense of we are all in this together. After all, by the summer we would all be back together sharing stories of how we survived and by Autumn, business would return to normal. Summer came and many of us did have a window of opportunity to be together, to feel a new kind of normal and a sense that this was the beginning of the end.
Now this paints a naïve picture and not a truthful reflection of how I actually felt. My mask of positivity was hiding a much more realistic view of the unfolding situation. Of course, I hoped for a return to schools and events and my youth theatre work in the Autumn, but I was really looking to the turning of the year; 2021 to make that fresh start and return to some sort of normality.
Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come, reflected in the unimaginable figures of those who sadly have lost the chance to share their survival stories and a year on, we still haven’t reached the end, but we are getting closer. That energy I had at the beginning was never going to be sustainable and I like so many others have had dark days and been exhausted by a tide of negative emotions. I’m lucky though that I have had the support of family, friends and a community of creatives who have been there to offer some light and I will never underestimate the important role they have played for me over these months.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for us all in varying degrees and we will all have our own experiences of the last twelve months. Whether you have stuck to the rules or haven’t, whether you have had your life turned upside down or been more inconvenienced than anything else, we all have our story to share.
So, perhaps that is the point. A year on, life feels both changed and unchanged, theatres and entertainment venues are still dark, my diary still by no means busy, but that positive energy is finding its way back. A year on the World feels changed and yet unchanged and whatever the future does or does not hold there is one certainty. A year on we are all connected by the same story thread, it may be woven in different ways, but that thread connects across households, towns, cities, countries, continents. A story thread that will be unpicked, re-woven and shared not just one year on, but for many years to come.