A few months back, I posted on twitter that I am in the best physical shape of my life.
In the days following that tweet, friends and colleagues have reached out to inquire what exactly I’ve been doing. How is it that during a world-wide pandemic where we are ostensibly quarantined, I stay motivated to exercise when we have no place to go and nowhere to be seen? As I think about the reasons, I am so pumped to get pumped, it really stems from what I crave most – the action.
I have spent my entire career creating pulse-pounding, heartbeat-skipping, visually captivating, edge-of-your-seat entertainment, from a fiery human cannonball who rockets 80 feet, to Queen Elsa carving up the ice, to a 42 foot tall T-Rex whose roar can bring you back in time. And now the world has been benched.
So many of us have never been busier: We are home on zoom calls coping with being stay-at-home, work-from-home parents, trying to manage our careers, our productivity and our family’s sanity. If you aren’t at home, you may be a front-line worker in the throes of this virus seeing first-hand the effects it is having on the people around you.
Our entertainment outlets have almost exclusively become the two-dimensional options stemming from streaming platforms, X-Box, and YouTube. Our intense engagement with the user-based content that appears on our TikTok, Facebook, or Instagram accounts further exemplifies our very basic human desire to once again congregate as a community.
I miss being able to surprise our children at a family show with the awe of dinosaurs whose skin texture looks so real they ask if these creatures are actually alive. I ache for that feeling when ice skaters whiz past us while our favorite Disney moments come to life in front of our very eyes. I yearn to have dirt trapped in my boots and feel the vibration of the throttling Monster Jam truck engines as we hold our breath in anticipation of the next dazzling feat that will spontaneously and contagiously make us leap out of our seats. I really miss being surrounded by the faces of smiley children sticky with cotton candy.
There is hole in my heart when I fathom that over the last 5 months almost 5 million fans will have missed out on a Feld Entertainment production. And fans are feeling it too. It is clear from the debut of the Broadway musical Hamilton on Disney+ that people pine for human connection, powerful moments of humanity, and to be entertained by a gorgeous production with talented performers. My husband and I originally felt that this evocative musical was too mature for our 6- and 8-year- old kids, but given the current state of the world and the fact that it became “event television,” we gave them a history lesson and sat down with popcorn to tune in.
Now our children have memorized all the lyrics, are inquiring about how the costumes are made, and are trying to understand the creative process behind putting on a live event. They are now reading biographies of historic revolutionaries and putting on “live shows” in our living room – all of this demonstrating a powerful longing for Broadway to return so they can immerse themselves in the tangible and once again be “in the room where it happens.” The energy from the live audience fueled the cast and the emotions stirred created a magical experience that transcended the screen.
As a live content visionary, I am helpless against this pandemic and unable to bring you to the edge of your seat because you can’t leave the edge of your couch.
Our business so uniformly depends on fans coming together to witness incredible stunts and performances. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with uniquely talented athletes from across the globe who constantly persist towards greatness and never utter the word “impossible.” And while almost all of these remarkable athletes, performers, and staff have been “couched,” they are still inspiring me to push the limits of possibility.
While we wait this out, and until we can create memorable experiences where we can all come together again, I take inspiration from these extraordinary individuals and harness their energy so that I can be the best I can be. But perhaps more honestly, it’s because I’m seeking to escape the lack of control I feel and replace it with the thrilling rush I get from live action experiences.
Each day I set out to push myself a bit harder, to run the next mile a little faster, to grunt through one more pull-up, or squat just a little deeper - just as Monster Jam’s Krysten Anderson attempts the highest ramp jump ever in a Grave Digger Truck or Supercross series winner Eli Tomac rides to victory during an unprecedented season in a spectator-free stadium.
One day when people are comfortable again, the world will responsibly come together at a time and place to be determined. In the meantime, here’s what we can do:
· Find healthy and positive outlets to fill in for the void of what you crave
· Remember that the actors and athletes who perform on the live stage miss you more than you miss them, so find creative ways to support them and their craft
· If you have children at home, emphasize play that models live entertainment and sports. This will continue their love and appreciation of events that bring us all together.
Until we can return to the live action, I’ll be on the bench in the best shape of my life, ready for showtime