As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to some of our favorite artists to see how they are coping with the self-isolation on a daily basis, both physically and creatively.
Robert Horn picked up a Tony Award as bookwriter of last season's Tootsie, a show so funny they billed it as a comedy musical. In the midst of development work on multiple projects when the ban on mass gatherings began—including a musical with Shane McAnally and Brandy Clarke, a new series with Tootsie director Scott Ellis, and the Netflix adaptation of Broadway musical 13, for which he wrote the book—Playbill reached out to see how he's coping with being cooped up.
What is your typical day like now?
Like everyone, it’s just an average 93 hours; get up at 5 AM, work until lunch, eat until dinner, eat until bed, bake, get baked, stare at my dog, cry on my dog, resist cutting my own hair. I’ve actually made an effort to stay on a schedule so I don’t feel unproductive or get too invested in my neurosis. I don’t watch TV until night. I work a lot, which is not really a change for me. Still, I’m not sure anything is typical anymore.
I think that if anything good comes from all this uncertainty, it’ll be the birth of so much new art from so many people.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I recently binged ‘I’m Not Ok With This and Call My Agent on Netflix. Drag Race is essential during a quarantine. Also, anything funny is a needed tonic. The Broadway Podcast Network and Broadway HD keep me connected to the community. I'm rereading all the James Kirkwood novels. Tyler Mac Jones, Randy Rainbow, and Zublin_Zoetrope keep me glued to Insta. Last week I rewatched The Trouble With Angels, which sent me down a fierce rabbit hole of Roz Russell movies. And I binged a bunch of Peter Bogdanovitch and Preston Sturges films. I just uploaded Quibi and am loving these 10 minute shows. Nicole Ritchie’s Nikki Fresh is hysterical. I’ve been trading playlists with some friends, so I’ve gotten to hear some new music… and, as has so often been the case, I’ve come back to Joni Mitchell in times of trouble and introspection. Plus Brandy Clark’s new album Your Life Is a Record is a must.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation?
Stop watching the news. Reach out. Shower and get dressed, it really does help. Especially if you don't live alone. If you don't have a pet, consider fostering one. Don’t shut yourself off or feel guilty about what you don’t do. Try to find the positives. I mean, we’ve gotten to see Patti LuPone’s basement and Andrew Cuomo’s presidential leadership. How have we survived the last three years without either!
How are you keeping your creative juices flowing?
I’m not sure they flow so much as drip... like a leaky pipe in an abandoned warehouse. As a writer, I’m used to isolation, but what I miss is the collaboration. It’s hard to not be in a room with people. An abundance of Zoom calls has made me very aware of my facial creases and awkward mannerisms. I’ve been really inspired by what people are creating! I’ve actually been reaching out to people on social media, just to say I like their content, or to tell them how funny they are, or start a creative conversation. I normally wouldn’t do that, but turns out, people are open to communicating right now. I’ve made some really unexpected new friends. Also had some fights.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I think for most writers, panic is fuel. It is for me. And because production has basically halted, everyone is focused on development. I have a number of new shows at different stages which are all so far moving ahead, and I’m incredibly excited about the new one which was supposed to go out of town in September, but hey, the Lord giveth, the Lord slappeth that s@#t right out of your hands, right? I think that if anything good comes from all this uncertainty, it’ll be the birth of so much new art from so many people. It’s going to be a renaissance of new theater. It will reemerge stronger and more potent than ever, and maybe… less expensive!