Saturday, March 12, 2022

Exactly Two Years

In the time of the pandemic, there have been milestones, markers, of the passage of time. Time has been variable, sometimes feeling like an eternity and sometimes moments seeming to disappear when they'd barely begun.

Today was another of those markers.

The first big marker of event time passage was a year ago. In March 2021, I was one of the interpreters for the Oregon Poetry Out Loud competition. The event itself was virtual, but the host and coordinator (the amazing Deb Vaughn) and the two interpreters were live in a recording studio. We were masked until the recording began, and we were spaced about twelve feet from each other. The second interpreter has been in my pandemic pod since the beginning, still is, and we work and write together. The time marker of that event is that Poetry Out Loud had been the last live event, in-person, that I'd interpreted in March 2020. I had been preparing and rehearsing to interpret a play - which was canceled. But Poetry Out Loud, regionals, was the last in-person event. So Poetry Out Loud was both a last and a first.

Tonight I interpreted a Portland Community College Theatre Arts production, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind. This is another marker of a sorts in pandemic terms. While TMLMBGB is a very different production than the one in March 2020 (Our Town) - I was at PCC exactly two years ago today, when theatre started shutting down, when stay at home orders were beginning to be issued.

I had gone to PCC on March 12, 2020, to work with an interpreting team - watching them to a sign-through, practice run - to be followed by feedback session and discussion about the show, their interpretations. When we arrived, about an hour before the show was to go live, we went backstage and found the director talking to the cast and crew, in costumes, standing in a large circle on the stage set and ready for act one. The director was telling them that the college had made the decision to close the school and the production was canceled immediately. There were tears. Lots of tears. And confusion. 

One of the interpreters and I left after a while, after the second interpreter showed up late and then left after learning about the closure. The other two of us walked to the parking lot. I received an email notice of a cancelation of another play at another theater. We stood at my car, talking about the virus, the state of things - it wasn't yet being called a pandemic (I don't think). I received another email with a "hold" on a production (which would be canceled two weeks later) and then another.

The other interpreter and I decided to drive to the coast. To get away for a few hours (we're lucky we live close) and think and breathe fresh air. We did.

As the days went by things changed quickly. More pauses and postponements from those who were hopeful. Cancellations from some who were near the end of runs or couldn't extend. One by one by one things fell away as the COVID-19 numbers increased.

Then, today, exactly two years to the day, I was on the (volunteer) interpreting team for this PCC production. It seemed fitting to be here doing this play at this time. It is not the first PCC play on Zoom that I've interpreted since the pandemic begun - and yes, they have all been pro bono. Keeping the access alive and supporting the creative and innovative and passionate work of theater that PCC has continued throughout this time. 

This is a photo of the setup the other interpreter and I used for tonight's interpreting set-up. I don't think we're done with this pandemic; or, more accurately, the pandemic is not done with us - the virus is not done. I would love to be wrong, but numbers around the globe are growing in the BA2 variant. And I, for one, do not want to get the virus. I have genetic conditions and a prior health situation which put me at risk for severe illness and significant complications - so I do not want to get it at all. Simply "surviving the virus" is not an option, not a risk I want to take.a

So - I may be doing more of this. Or less of this. I have to see what's ahead, how the numbers actually go and not just the wishful thinking of the wealthy, young, healthy, White people who are wishing it was already gone, so they are "acting as if."

Exactly two years ago today I know where I was. A vivid memory. And what a pleasure and a full circle to be working with the same theatre group. Their hearts are warm and glowing and their passions are clear and directed. Thank you for letting us be a part of your circle - in 2020 and now and in the future.