Parker is no stranger to the dazzling sights and sounds of Broadway in NYC. She made her Broadway debut at just 11 years-old, appearing in the 1976 revival of The Innocents. From there, she went on to play the title role in Annie before moving up to the big screen, and eventually returning to the stage from time to time. Parker's husband, Matthew Broderick, is also known as a legend on the stage.
It is no wonder Sarah Jessica Parker would find it so difficult to see the stage lights remain dark across New York. Broadway began its complete shutdown on March 12th of this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDC guidelines recommend social distancing as the best preventative measure for preventing spread of the virus. That means venues such as large theaters are almost impossible to sustain normal operations.
In her essay, the actress wrote about the greater impact the Broadway shutdown has had on neighboring communities:
"New York especially needs theater because so many New Yorkers need theater — the thousands of people employed directly and indirectly by the industry, doing collateral work, from the servers at the surrounding restaurants to the people responsible for dry-cleaning costumes. Theater is the way we induce visitors to come to our city and plan those special afternoons and evenings, which keep such a vast web of my fellow citizens employed and afloat. All the people I know and all the people I don't know who are out of work need theater for the rent, and the mortgage, and children's educations — all the countless "ands" that are creating so much anxiety across the city and the nation."
She also noted how much life theater can bring in a time of darkness. Besides the difficult financial implications, New York without theater leaves many lives longing for hope.
"When I'm not working, the theater and the ballet is where I go, to connect and to be inspired. That possibility is missing now, and we need it more than ever. We need the escapism that live theater has always given us so beautifully, to be with our fellow man in the audience, laughing and weeping and finding something entirely new to connect with. As an audience member, you're part of something together, a communion."
As for when Broadway will reopen its stages, Parker says nobody is married to any reopening date. But, she is hopeful that audiences will arrive in what ever capacity that they can. Maskless audiences are far from the near future, as noted in the essay, but each day brings us closer to the time when orchestras can play on to full houses.
You can read Sarah Jessica Parker's full essay here.
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