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 Montego Glover, a Tony nominee and Drama Desk winner for her performance as Felicia in the Tony-winning musical Memphis. The actor has also been seen on Broadway in It Shoulda Been You, Les Misérables, and The Color Purple, as well as the national tour of Hamilton. Glover's Off-Broadway credits are All the Natalie Portmans, The Royale, and Pirates of Penzance, while her screen outings include Bull, Black Box, The Following, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Hostages, Smash, Golden Boy, White Collar, The Good Wife, and Law & Order.
What is your typical day like now?
A typical day is pretty much the same as it was at the top of quarantine. Consistent practices around masks, handwashing, social distancing. Except now my morning unmissable debrief from the governor's office is less about this mysterious virus that harms people and more about the roll out on vaccines. As for work, I'm up early to start (at least for an actor). Very much a 9 to 5 sort of schedule. I spend a lot of time in my voiceover booth either doing bookings or submitting on projects. I spend a lot of time self taping for TV and film. I basically run creative marathons in my apartment! The days are full.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
I took this time to catch up on viewing and to revisit some old friends. Succession, Shrill, Small Axe, All In, Bridgerton, Pretend It's a City, Mandalorian, The Great, Schitt's Creek, Bob's Burgers, Seinfeld, VEEP. Reread Michelle Obama's Becoming. Currently reading Barack Obama's A Promised Land. Rereading Brené Brown's Rising Strong.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding BIPOC artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of?
We are in a keen position to rewrite the foundations of our institutions in a mindful, inclusive, and enduring way. This goes for both sides of the table: actors, creatives, crew, producers, musicians, craftspersons, front of house, everyone involved with the arts. The work can be done. It does not need to be hurried. It does need to be steady and malleable. It will take all of us to do it, and listening is essential.
What do you want them to consider further?
Rethinking the way we present live theatre in every way, particularly on Broadway. I believe the entire model has to and must change in order for every person in this community to be part of it safely, to continue to thrive as artists, but more importantly to earn a living doing what we love, all of which is absolutely doable. The change has been a long time coming, and I believe the time to strike for the better is now as we consider how we reopen Broadway houses.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
Isolation can be helpful. It depends on how you take it in. Isolation can invite you to be alone with your thoughts, to re-examine your space and the energy around you, generated by you. Let those thoughts and feelings be present. Make room for them. I also believe in taking initiative and inviting what you want into your space. Make time for phone chats, FaceTime dates, plans of any and every kind with people you love and who matter to you. Take time to write. Sing out loud. Anything that interests you and only you. Be active in this way.
As for unrest. Three things. One. Stay informed. Information is power and essential. However, get good and solid information on current events. Make sure your news sources are sound. Two. Limit the amount of time you spend digesting or devouring news information. It's like a meal. Nourishment is necessary. Overeating is a problem. Three. Find the action, person, place, or thing that allows you to reset at the end of every day. To calm you. To wipe your slate clean. To bring you back to center. In other words, strive for balance.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
COVID or not, I'm still an actress, and I still have a job to do, which happens to be my dream job. I'm very lucky in that I get to work across a number of platforms, so if I'm not performing live in a play or musical or giving a concert, I'm presenting plays and readings virtually. I'm working in voiceover for commercials, film, animated series, and narration. The added gift of the last year has been more time to teach. Before the pandemic I wasn't often able to accommodate offers to teach. My schedule simply didn't allow it. But this time has given me more flexibility, and spending time with students is (and has always been) a joy. I learn so much! Creative juices are definitely flowing.
Are you working on any theatrical projects during this time?
I presented Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit (twice!) for Stars in the House. Amazing fun. I'm in conversations with a handful of my favorite directors and producers about plays that we'd love to do once we're safely back on the boards. Now is a wonderful time to have those talks. We can really connect as people and converse about the work without the usual timelines or interruptions. I've got two projects for Netflix in the works: an animated series and a drama. I've also just finished work on a series for CBS.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Black Theatre United, Broadway Green Alliance, Costume Industry Coalition, Fair Fight, and our Off-Broadway theatres and venues in New York. There are so many amazing companies that produce incredible theatre. Literally your "local playhouse." Make a point to discover the ones around you and support them.