Keith Weiss is a New York based actor. Here he reflects on what is was like when lockdown hit NYC.
My mother always told me constantly to this day something her mother told her.
“You make plans, and God laughs.”
It’s a stark mantra for our lives today.
Before the Coronavirus, I made plans to go on a Theatre for Young Audiences tour, plans set in stone since November 2019.
From 2017, I was a Resident Actor at The Flea Theater, a well-known theatre company in NYC that also barely paid its actors for performing. It was more like labor in exchange for exposure and being part of the community. A lot of my life before this crisis was finding myself in positions of having to ask for permission from institutions to create my work.
It took losing everything I had worked for to gain my self-respect as an artist. Before we are actors, we are all artists, and we choose how to deliver our art.
Coronavirus forced me to discover my vessel by starting and building my own platform, a podcast called A STAR IS BORED. It gave me time to reflect and hold space, begin dialogue, and produce plays, something I had aspired to at this theater company but had been repeatedly denied.
As certain theatre institutions begin to reckon with themselves, I reckon with all the elements of my identity that define my artistic voice. My allyship, my integrity as a human being, and what has changed for me the most is my refusal to ask for permission in my artistry anymore.
Becoming a producer of benefit play readings through my podcast as well as producing, editing, and hosting the podcast itself gave me the power I’ve always craved as a theatre artist: to cultivate space for artists to create as if it was their own, to share my truth unabashedly and stare back at a world that does not know me and introduce myself with no apologies, and most importantly, to make no plans. Best to just dive in.