Updated: Mar 16
As I write this welcome message on Sept. 1, 2020, New York is precariously balanced between the summer and the fall seasons, still very much in the shadow of the crisis but impatiently moving forward. The United States has just topped six million coronavirus infection cases nationwide, with close to 190,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, but our state stands out positively with few new cases amid this fresh surge elsewhere.
Double Edge Theatre. Photo by Grażyna Drabik.
Although New York managed, at least for now, to contain the plague, the city bears the marks of its effects. We walk the streets masked. Avoid the public transport. Wait patiently in line outside the Trader Joe's or in front of the farmer’s market stand. Broadway lights are still dimmed, concert halls closed, movie houses dark. Many stores are shattered. Smaller, often family-run businesses that were neighborhood fixtures add to the impersonal “out of business” announcement sorrowful good-bye notes to their long-term customers. Most worrisome, there are signs of increased drug use and impoverishment.
Yet everywhere you can also note the need for broadening of the public space and for rekindling of social engagement. Schools and colleges are reopening – with classes mostly online, but tentatively, in small doses, also in person. Restaurants and cafés claim the sidewalk and occasionally a few parking places too. Even pizza parlors and Dunkin' Donuts planted tables outside. Parks are full of walkers and picnickers. Musicians and stand-up comics command attentive audiences in city plazas. Metropolitan Museum has just welcomed its first visitors, reopening on August 29, although with restrictions. Galleries are announcing the first fall season exhibitions... Welcome to our new normal, a strange abnormal normal, with the extraordinary tamed into the almost-ordinary.
The truth is that we continue to navigate on the sea of uncertainties. We don’t really know what’s around the corner and when a more predictable rhythm will reassert itself. And when it does, whether it will resound with somber, tragic tones, or appear in more comedic colors, in the classic sense of the word comedy, as “adversities that end well.”
The Polish Theatre Institute is part of New York City heartbeat, and we would like to tip the scales of this uncertain balance towards the “happy end.” And so, although unable to perform live for now, we forge ahead, in spite of difficulties of the moment. We continue to work on our new musical for children, On the Bergamuty Islands.
We are planning a new podcast series, beginning with the reading of excerpts from The Wartime Notebooks as part of Bobkowski Project. In a longer-range perspective, we’d like to test how Stanisław Mrożek’s plays would sound today…
Double Edge Theatre. Photo by Grażyna Drabik. Graphic Design by Olga Szulc.
And here and now, we are launching our new website and this blog where, beside information about the PTI' activities, we’ll bring you news of diverse cultural events and vignettes of what’s the best in New York.