“The Pit is close proximity. Everyone is crammed,” said Jonathan Dinklage, concert master of the Broadway Musical, Hamilton. Sitting shoulder to shoulder may be a thing of the past thanks to the novel COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic earlier this year. “New York was getting pummeled, and the theatre industry was hit the worst,” Dinklage said. Close to half a million New Yorkers have been infected with the coronavirus. Those who have survived have spent six months trying to adjust to their new normal.
As a theatre artist, Dinklage talked about the adjustments he and other artists have had to make in this new “socially distant” life. Two major impacts that have affected the industry are artist’s income and loss of identity.
To make money and still feel a sense of belonging, Dinklage has recorded music, taught classes, and played for shows via zoom. “If it wasn’t for technology, we would all be in a worse way.”
While Jonathan had a cushion of 22 years’ worth of experience to fall back on, this is not the case for artists trying to break into the industry. Over 14,480 new unemployment claims were filed in the arts industry, according to The New York State Department of Labor.
Though it will be nearly a year and a half before Broadway resumes, Dinklage predicts, humans are in need of contact and togetherness to survive. “When theatre comes back, it will come back with intense vengeance…right now it is important to get in front of the virus and protect the safety of the American people.”
Dinklage is using this time in quarantine to do what he does best: create. He leaves us with a feeling of hope for the future, “the arts always bloom after a period of struggle.”