ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — For performers who need crowds for a living, the shuttering of concert halls and venues hits both personally and financially.
New Mexico Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel’s decision to temporarily ban public gatherings of 100 people or more because of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a cascade of cancellations at concert halls such as Popejoy, the National Hispanic Cultural Center, the Lensic Performing Arts Center and theaters in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Violinist and Chatter co-founder David Felberg also plays in both the New
Mexico Philharmonic and the Santa Fe Symphony as well as Serenata of Santa Fe. All have canceled performances.
“A lot of the work I do is freelance,” he said. “Basically, our livelihood depends on crowds of people. As far as performing, everything’s on complete hold. It’s a little scary.”
More positively, the ban means he can practice more and stay home with his two children now that schools have closed.
“I’m definitely going to rest,” he said. “Maybe fix things around the house – spring cleaning.”
For Jacqueline Reid, actor and co-founder of Fusion Theatre, canceling the opening of the play “The Antipodes” was like a little death. Reid was the director.
“We were almost done with our rehearsal process,” she said. “Now we’re making calls to the team to see if everybody is available April through June. It also
involves talking to the union, because you have a contract. So it’s a legal mess.
“I was directing this amazing group of people. No self-centered egos at all. (My husband) Dennis said he’d never seen me so happy. We are all in mourning.”
For actor Eric John Werner, the part of Father Flynn in the Adobe Theater production of “Doubt” was the role of a lifetime.
“We’ve been getting great reviews,” he said. “It’s hard; I’m not going to lie. The hardest part is my family didn’t see it. My wife didn’t see it.
“I get it; I understand it. I do think it’s the right thing to do. It’s rough.”
Werner, who works for the city of Albuquerque as a management analyst, said he’ll try out for a part in a Vortex Theatre production when the ban ends.
“I’ve been in this theater community for 20-plus years, and I’ve never seen this happen,” he said.
Brian Haney, who played the role of the patient John in Mother Road Theatre’s “Shining City,” said that he also understands the closing but that it still hurts. Haney, who works for the University of New Mexico, had been working on the script a month before rehearsals began.
“Obviously, there’s a lot of work that goes into any theater production,” he said. “It’s very disappointing not to complete the run, to get one more chance to complete the race. At some point, we’re going to disassemble the set, which I’m sure will be very sad. I’m taking a little bit of a break now.”
Reid tried to sound hopeful.
“You feel despair, and it lifts because you look around you and it’s everywhere around you – the whole world,” she said. “It’s like a battle; you have to choose where to focus. People are cooped up for the next month. Hopefully, it will help economically (when it ends) because everyone will want to go out and celebrate life.”