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Commentary Coronavirus Top Stories

Sacrifices and substitutions in the time of COVID

Photo by Charleigh Reinardy | Staff Photographer

“I don’t know if I’ll audition.”

I said this to my mom as we were sitting outside having lunch. We were talking about Drake Theatre auditions, which were quickly approaching.

“Why’s that?” my mom asked me, with a quizzical expression on her face.

“I love theatre and I love the people I meet through performances,” I said, “But I don’t know if I want to do masked productions.” 

And it’s true; I love theatre. Acting has been my passion for the last five years or so and I wouldn’t trade my theatrical experiences for the world. However, theatrical acting is not all in the voice — the face plays a key role in delivering emotions and furthering the plot. Often, the greatest actors win their Oscars not with words, but with their faces. Though I am certainly not anti-mask and believe that the Drake mask policy is in place for a good reason, masks do not exactly enhance the theatrical experience. They muffle the voice, restrict your ability to deliver a good performance and limit the degree to which nonverbal cues convey a message.

Now don’t get me wrong, if I am cast in an upcoming Drake production, I will absolutely mask up and give the production 100 percent. My main point with this article is not to complain about masking up. It certainly isn’t ideal, but these measures must be taken in times like these. My main point is not actually my point at all — it’s my mom’s. 

“Chris,” she said. “I know how hard it is to get the motivation to do things you love in a pandemic when they are so restricted. But unfortunately, these are the cards that you and millions of other kids your age were dealt. And you have to play your best game with that hand.” 

“Yeah,” I said. “But once something’s taken away, it’s really hard to accept the substitute.” 

“I know it’s hard. But I don’t want your college career to pass you by because you were riding the bench waiting for normalcy.” 

Let’s be real for a second; who knows when this awful disease that has ruined, taken and negatively changed lives will end. We have had some glimmers of hope; a few lights at the ends of tunnels, but we do not have an exact time and date for when — or even if — the “all clear” will be given. It could be a matter of months or even years. Pandemics are unpredictable. 

So here I am, starting my second year of college and yearning for normalcy to return so I can enjoy the college experience so many before me have loved. And though this year has so far been significantly better than last year, it’s still difficult to deal with the reality that things are not as they “should be” or how I pictured them.

But we get to choose. We still have to do things; we have to keep going. Go sign up for that club. Audition for that show like I ended up doing. Try out for the team. Do whatever you were planning anyway. Yes, it is going to be different, and odds are those differences are going to make the activity different than it once was. 

“Or perhaps,” as my mom said, “try something new. Try something you haven’t done before. That way, you won’t have a pre-pandemic standard to compare it to.” For example, I’m writing articles for the Times-Delphic, something I didn’t think I’d ever do.  

I say to everybody reading this: We may not have a normal college experience, and it sucks. But we have to play with the cards we are dealt. Otherwise, Covid wins because we decided to just sit back and wait instead of at least trying to do what we would regularly do. Normalcy may not be here for a while, and if we ride on the bench waiting for it, we may miss out on a lot more than we think. That doesn’t make it easy. Everybody knows dealing with the substitute is a hard pill to swallow. But if we at least find anything that brings us joy, even a small amount, the pandemic gets a little easier. COVID-19 does not get to define our college experiences — we do.


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