As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with Drew Droege, who has penned and performed five solo shows, Bright Colors and Bold Patterns, Bad Education, Drugs!, Happy Birthday Doug, and Good Evening America. He has written for Netflix’s Big Mouth and AJ and The Queen, starring RuPaul. His most recent TV/film acting credits include El Tonto, Search Party, Teachers, Heathers, Bob's Burgers, Drunk History, Life in Pieces, and Now Apocalypse. Other stage credits include Justin Sayre’s Ravenswood Manor, Matt Wilkas and Mark Setlock’s Born to Win, and Charles Busch’s Die Mommie Die!. Droege received the Outstanding Performance Award at Outfest Los Angeles in 2018 for his work in the BroadwayHD capture of Bright Colors and Bold Patterns.
Happy Birthday Doug also recently premiered on BroadwayHD.
What is your typical day like now?
I'm very happy to be working right now, but for the last five months before that, I was doing a lot of hiking with neighbors and watching every old movie I'd never seen. I've worn out two pairs of shoes and have now officially seen every movie ever made.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I saw a mind-blowing film called The Obituary of Tunde Johnson, about a gay Black teenager who gets killed by the police every day, only to wake up and get killed again. Of course, it couldn't be more prescient, but the impressive thing about it to me is that it also managed to be wildly entertaining, truly original, and ultimately hopeful. I think it's brilliant.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding Black artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
During this time, I have learned that simply casting BIPOC actors in traditionally white roles is not really moving anything forward. We're still telling white stories. We need to create spaces for people of color to create and tell their stories. And we all need to buy tickets to watch those stories.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
As a planet, we are going through this horrifying moment together, but that collective trauma shouldn't diminish our individual woes. Don't be afraid to cry, to reach out, to ask for help, to be however you need to be right now. Don't feel pressure to be strong or shake this off—not a single one of us knows how to do this life thing right now.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I didn't feel creative at all when this started, and I had to take a load of time off. Also, nothing felt funny or light in the world, and any attempt at comedy felt disrespectful or tone-deaf. Then I made a very low-fi and not particularly hilarious video and just posted it, and lots of people really responded to it. And I realized that we are all desperate for connection and levity right now. My advice is just to put your weirdest, silliest, stupidest idea out there—someone might need to see it, and you'll feel better for doing it.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
Yes! I'm acting in a film of this fantastic new play by James Walsh, called The Extinction of Fireflies, with my great friend Michael Urie and incredible actors Tracie Bennett and Kario Marcel. We're all in Rhode Island rehearsing in a house together, and then we're filming it in a few weeks. It's very funny but really devastating, so I'm thrilled that I get to do some drama!
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
I definitely endorse Broadway Cares and Black Lives Matter. Those are evergreen in their importance, and they are doing so much good right now at a time we really need it!