Baritone Peter McGillivray knows well that he’s in a great, big shared experience of insecurity with his fellow artists. He’s balancing work with fun to pass the time, and he’s answered our next set of Quarantine Questions:
What is something you’ve lost to the pandemic?
“Like every performing artist I have lost almost all my income for the foreseeable future as gig after gig is cancelled, including a role debut as Germont [in Verdi’s La traviata] that I was much looking forward to. Some heroic companies like Tapestry Opera have offered to honour their commitments to us in full, searching out new and creative ways to make art in the virtual, socially-distant landscape that’s been foisted on us. For that, I am extremely grateful.
“A professional full-time artist’s traditional hedge against catastrophe is to be engaged by a wide variety of companies – if one goes down you still have all your other work. This system isn’t designed for a total shutdown of all companies simultaneously. The other hedge for those artists with life partners is that it’s very unlikely that you’ll both be out of work at the same time. If they have a ‘muggle’ outside the arts world you often feel doubly secure. That faith has been irrevocably shaken, especially with my own wife having been laid off from her sales job and now on EI.”
What have you done with your unexpected time, that makes you grateful?
“I have been throwing myself into my duties as Vice President of Canadian Actor’s Equity Association. There has obviously been a flurry of activity as we advocate for emergency resources for individual working artists and arts organizations. But some of our other projects have also taken on a new urgency such as working for better mental health services for our members and better support systems for our senior artists. More personally, we’ve indulged in binge-watching Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, repeated bouts of stress-baking, and virtual cocktail parties with faraway friends.
“I am prepping playlists for a new opera and vocal music-focused radio show for our local community/university station in Sudbury, CKLU to begin whenever we are allowed back in to the facilities. And a particular bright light has been organizing a weekly reading of Shakespearean comedies over Zoom with friends and admirers of the Bard from around the world. We’re calling ourselves The Quarantine Players, and we’ll be reading Merry Wives of Windsor after hilariously fun takes on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night in previous weeks. Might be the only way I can take on my dream role of Falstaff for the foreseeable future!”