The business that’s like no other is a much bigger business than you’d probably guess. Broadway itself, the 41 large theatres clustered around Lincoln Center in New York City and the businesses that depend on them, employ nearly 100,000 people full-time, and countless part-timers and gig workers as well. When Broadway shut down on March 12 this year, all of that massive human machinery went grinding to a halt. And that was just New York. Performance venues all over the world felt the impact of pandemic closures like the meteor that killed the dinosaurs. A conservative estimate of how much revenue the COVID-19 crisis has cost performing arts in the United States this year is over $42 billion. And there’s still no solid news of when the industry can even begin to recovery. (A popular prediction for Broadway is May 2021 – an early start to the 2021-22 performing season.) And while there will always be actors and a stage on which they perform, many involved in the theatre are watching their career paths change in ways they never imagined.
Vasthy Mompoint, for instance, was on the verge of jumping from stage to screen after starring in “Ghost.” Pandemic closures dried up all of her auditions very quickly, and shut down the off-Broadway show that she was directing. But she drew on her improv skills and invented a new career – she founded a company that connected artists in need of ‘survival jobs,’ the work we do to pay the rent while working for better, with parents who wanted babysitters that would truly engage their kids. Her new venture has over 900 registered families already, and scores of actors filling the important role of child minders.
Once that was up and solidly running, Mompoint left that company in good hands and began another, this one a virtual performance platform for Broadway performers to compose child-friendly theatre programming, both to be performed online and in anticipation of returning to real stages. This company, called Vashty’s Friends, is being pitched to television networks in hopes of becoming an educational platform with broad reach.
Perhaps more than anyone else in the world, theatre folk are adept at moving forward, reinventing themselves and what they’re capable of. Actors like Mompoint deserve an ovation.
Source: NBC News
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