Roseanne Cash, daughter of country troubadour Johnny Cash, sent a tweet last week that got people talking: “Just a reminder that when Shakespeare was quarantined because of the plague, he wrote King Lear.”
Cash’s tweet earned mixed reviews. Some found inspiration in her message; others mocked it. But one thing’s for sure: Artists are bound to create, pandemic or otherwise.
We’re seeing that firsthand in Lancaster as more of the county embraces health officials’ advice that social distancing can slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Musicians and DJs livestreamed sets, providing much-needed humanity. As my fiance and I co-worked from the couch this week, Lancaster singer-songwriter Corty Byron provided our tunes Tuesday afternoon. Wednesday lunchtime was soundtracked by DJ Salinger, who brought his weekly “Wax on Wednesday” event, typically at Tellus360, to an online audience.
We could have put on a record or listened to a playlist from Spotify, but there was a special comfort in hearing music made by folks we know in our own town.
Another bright spot this week was discovering Quarantined Karaoke, a Facebook group created by Revelo magazine editor Katerina Kuss. She encourages Lancastrians to belt out a song as they typically would at their favorite bar’s karaoke night. It’s been fun to check back to the page for updates and see if there are posts by anyone I know. (I’m still working up the gusto to record my own video.)
I was touched to see the Fulton, which had to suspend its production of “Kinky Boots,” post a warmhearted phrase on its marquee this week: “Let love shine, We’re in this together, Stay healthy.”
While the page was created before the COVID-19 pandemic, I also suggest checking out the Instagram account @artistsoflanc.
Lancaster graphic designer Tim Medina created it to highlight the work of local visual artists. Use it to find your new favorite local talent in a time when we can’t congregate on Gallery Row.
I found comfort in all of these things last week, as they reinforced what I already knew: Lancaster’s creative community is something to be treasured.
But to be honest, I’m scared. I’m scared for my friends in bands who rely on their gig money to pay rent. I’m scared for our local actors whose shows have been postponed or canceled. I’m scared for our gallery owners, who are such a vital part of Lancaster city’s culture.
Like you, I have no idea how long our social distancing will need to last to be effective. But when our health officials give us the OK to resume life as usual, we have to come out in droves to support our local creatives if we want Lancaster’s art scene to thrive once more. I want to see every seat at local theaters filled on opening night. I want to see folks happily pay a $5 cover to see a great local band at a bar. I want First Friday to feel like a party thrown in honor of our creative community.
And while we’re at it, plan to go out to dinner before or after the event too, because surely our friends in the service industry will need it.
Until then, we’ve got to stay connected any way we can from the safety of our homes. So thank you, Lancaster artists, for making me smile last week. We still need you.
Jenelle Janci is LNP | LancasterOnline’s team leader for Life & Culture. “Unscripted” is a weekly entertainment column produced by a rotating team of writers.