The Indicator from Planet Money - The State Of The Arts

Morgan Gould is a playwright who talked with us in April about the cancellation of her play. She describes what life has been like for people who work in the arts during the pandemic. | Support The Indicator here.

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Everyone a quick note before we start the show 20/20 has been a really difficult year for everyone and we so appreciate your support and listening to our show. If you do happen to have extra money and are inspired to donate to our show. You can go to donate that npr.org indicator. We will use that money to continue to look at the economic effects of covid-19 and talk with people all across the country about their experiences. Thank you so much and happy holidays.

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I want is Cardiff this indicator from Planet Money. Morgan Gould is a playwright. And when we first spoke to Morgan back in the spring, it was not long after her new play. It had its run at a Festival cancelled early because of covid-19.

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00:02:11
Morgan Gold welcome back to the show. I am shocked. I can't believe I can't believe how long it's been it's so terrifying. Oh my god. Wow, 20/20. Where is it? Feel like the last time we spoke you were in a different world?

00:02:30
same world like I feel

00:02:33
Same which is different because I think I thought it would be less time when we last spoke at the pandemic would be last time. Yeah, and when we spoke to last time in April your play Nicole Clark is having a baby had just been prematurely canceled at the festival where it was showing so you just want to catch me up on what you've been up to since then. What did you what did you do professionally afterwards to to try to to respond to rebound so lucky because before Nicole Clark I had some TV stuff that I already have in the works for the plan was to have always liked when the production was over. I would I would turn things in and deadlines and have a paycheck and stuff and not continue to happen. It was a lot harder to write than I thought to a global pandemic but all through April May June and July I was like

00:03:33
Add to write or I would run out of rent money. Did you find that that was a common thing that TV jobs were still available to people were as for the Performing Arts obviously, you know, you can't perform in front of a live audience. I'd imagine it those jobs went away immediately and people might have shifted into TV. That sounds like it would make sense for me. I'm speaking just for writers. I think that like actors designers technicians like they had it so much harder. I think writers a lot of writers are really lucky cuz you can still write virtually the story for me with the Performing Arts has all the people whose there's no way to virtually direct to play really, I mean, I guess you can direct resume writing but it's just like not the same and actors and mostly like for me it breaks my heart to think about like the 1099 workers like the technicians at the theater and the people in production and add the people whose job just like are not virtual and there's nothing they can do.

00:04:34
But I do think like they're certain people who just like didn't have jobs after March 13th, and they're still not back and I think we're going to lose a lot of them forever and that feels like so painful cuz those are the people that really are like the lifeblood when you walk into a theater and I also have to imagine Morgan a lot of these workers my really struggle to get back in the theater after they've been knocked off that career path for this long a time. I mean this is this is a competitive and maybe a scary in the street of workin. It seems even when the economy is doing awesome. And so it's it's kind of like they lost that trajectory for their careers in addition to losing their jobs and their livelihoods are losing their Healthcare Uber Eats, like pizza delivery man. I have actor friends who I have literally like 7 after friends who became life coaches. I have somehow become Realtors. It's like it's funny to be like five of them became life.

00:05:33
Does that mean it's really sad actually because anyone who's a working actor has spent their life building this career and it's just like gone in a second and when we come back in a year whenever if ever it's like their jobs were already hard to get so it's just impossible to ask them to cling on like for an indefinite amount of time. Like I just I don't I don't know what I would do if I was in their shoes. I really have so much compassion for that. But you know, I think it's already as scary as knowing that like you had it feels like a huge backslide. I feel that way. I feel like my play was happening once we come back. It's not like we're doing that again. Like I don't have her I never had a world premiere and I may never have it. Play and I feel like most artists. I know have that feeling of like I worked and worked and worked and now I'm kind of starting from Square One.

00:06:33
Also been producing shows explicitly for an online medium and online audience have been experimenting with different ideas to try to get by that way until a pandemic is over. Have you seen any of those and in what do you think about that? I'm going to be so real with you. I support that so much I support artist getting paid. I support people and writers and generative artist be able to make work. I'd personally emotionally cannot watch that because it reminds you of what you were doing before. This is not a judgment on anyone doing it and honestly could be really good. I really haven't watched it. I mean that I haven't watched a single minute cuz I just like I've literally started to watch one once and was like, I can't like it's like that scene in Aladdin were like the genie is like you can't wish for people you love to come back to life cuz though cuz they'll come back exactly as they are as this like monster Frankenstein and so for me, it's just like to

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Painful because I feel like it's trying to recreate something. We just can't have right now and I feel like the the plus side of that The Optimist to me is like wall good because sometimes I'm a theater person I get sick of it. I get, you know pessimistic about her feel but I'm like I miss it and that's good. Like maybe we need to miss it for a little while because I think it isn't that essential to most people's lives until you really think about it, you know what I mean? And so for me it's been too painful to watch. But again, I think it's great if people have found a way to keep their audiences engaged and to keep their artistic Minds going. I'm super supportive emotional.

00:08:12
That's the truth man. Well, the vaccines are here now and I know it's going to take a long time to get everyone vaccinated. But Morgan given that we didn't know 2020 would be this bad before it started. Do you let yourself? Hope that 2021 maybe we'll be better than even seems possible right now cuz I feel like hope is died within me. So that means the bar is like incredibly low, but that's one of the nice things.

00:08:44
No, because I feel like the fact that like I have no hope for anything even remotely good that happens. I'm like, oh my God, like so, you know, honestly, it sounds cheesy and it sounds cliche but it's like because so much of this year has been about perspective and like ultimately I'm very lucky I'm safe. No one. I love got sick when I love died. Like so many people can say that and so I feel like for me, I'm just like if I can just continue that Trend in 2021, like I'm employed no 111 died. I will feel like that's a victory and you know, that sounds dumb that I really do feel that way.

00:09:27
Morning God. Thanks so much. Thank you so much. Talk to you feels like it's like such a fun punctuation in this crazy times.

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Morgan Gold is now a staff writer for the League of Their Own reboot. That's coming to Amazon next year. This episode of the indicator was produced by pretty Cronin and fact-checked by Sean. Saldania our editors Patty Hearst and the indicator is the production of NPR.
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