Life in the Time of Coronavirus

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has a lot of life on hold right now. Schools, classes, and programs are closed, as are parks, beaches, trails, and many businesses. Yet, despite the coronavirus shutdown, life goes on.

Like everyone else, I’ve been affected. All the plays we had tickets for have been canceled. No more bookish lunches out. My literature reading group no longer meets in-person, and although we met online via Zoom to discuss Romantic poetry, the only participants were me, one other person, and the facilitator. The next book is the last for the semester, Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. And, the house is now filled with family 24/7.

Some of the talks I had planned to attend have been moved online, so they’ll go ahead as scheduled. And, I signed up for a couple FutureLearn courses in archaeology, indulging in mid-life yet another lifelong interest. I had considered registering for another community college course, but decided against taking a place from an actual student who might need the credits.

On the plus side, lots of things are happening online now at no cost. Locally, The Old Globe is doing its nine-week community playwright’s program and a series of behind-the-scenes theatre workshops for free on Facebook Live, as well as Barry Edelstein’s Thinking Shakespeare Live discussion of sonnets. Julia Giolzetti, a member of the San Diego Shakespeare Society, is producing a “Sofa Shakespeare” series, compiling complete plays out of one-minute video clips sent in from all over the world. In progress right now are Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night, with Titus Andronicus in the queue. I’ve been tuning in to the results on Facebook and YouTube, and they are wonderful.

Then there’s Rob Myles’ The Show Must Go Online, featuring collaborative video readings of Shakespeare’s plays in the order they were written, starting with The Two Gentlemen of Verona. And, several theatre companies are posting performances on YouTube and other video platforms.

There are several great productions of Shakespeare plays on Amazon Prime, Britbox, Acorn, and other streaming services, and I have a large stack of DVDs too. And, I just discovered that the selection of Time Team episodes on Amazon Prime are different from the ones I’d seen before, so I’ve been binge-watching those. Archaeology is my new shiny object in this time of plague.

Speaking of streaming, The New York Metropolitan Opera is streaming a different one of their opera productions in HD every day through the shut-down. For nearly five hours, I got totally sucked into Wagner’s Die Walküre, which was as mesmerizing as the story is sickening. Incest, adultery, deceit, and death, all to a soaring musical score. What a glorious combination of beauty and horror – I may have just become an opera fan! In terms of antithesis, it’s like opera is Shakespeare squared. Siegfried became available yesterday afternoon and ends today, followed this evening by Götterdammerung.

A convergence of opera and Shakespeare is coming on April 4, when the Met streams Verdi’s Macbeth. Although, it seems like the first half of Siegfried could be called “Much Ado About Nothung.” Ooo, ooo, and “Götterdammerung” is Wagner’s German translation of the Old Norse “Ragnarök,” the war to end all wars marking the death of the old gods and the redemptive rise of mankind echoed in many other literary/religious traditions. A recent Marvel movie was titled Thor: Ragnarok, although now that I’ve seen a slice of Wagner I have to say the Marvel universe is a wholesome, tidy place compared to the dark wilderness of the Ring Cycle or the Icelandic familial revenge sagas on which it was based, and which I’ve been meaning to dive into. I think there’s an online course on Coursera about that.

Suddenly, there’s so much to see and do, right from the comfort of my own desktop!

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