Columbia College Chicago Theatre Dept. Alum: ‘COVID-19 Has Chicago Theater Down, But Not Out’

Almanya Narula

Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alum Almanya Narula ’16, a graduate of the Theatre Department’s BA Program in Acting, has published a morale-boosting shout-out to Chicago theatre artists. Published in the March 25, 2020, issue of the Chicago Reader — Chicago’s premier alternative weekly newspaper since 1971 —  Narula’s article is headlined “COVID-19 Has Chicago Theater Down, But Not Out.

Reflecting on the widespread cancellation of Chicago theatre productions following Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “Stay at Home” order to combat the spread of COVID19, Narula writes: “With 200some companies in Chicago all closing their doors and canceling their productions, it’s a rude awakening to the thriving theater community Chicago has had and how Chicago theater now faces the possibility of an incredible defeat. . . . Educational institutions have canceled their mainstage productions and senior showcases (a dream for many young practitioners trying to get a jump start into the industry) and moved all their classes online. For those going for an arts administration degree, online courses may be a smooth transition. However, for those pursuing a degree in theater arts or performance, this is far from easy. . . . Another loss for young professionals who are just entering the theater community is the opportunity to see Chicago theater at its finest. With the tumultuous political situation and a decade’s worth of struggle, it truly felt that this was the season of making bold statements. . . . ”

Then Narula switches gears, declaring: “However, all hope is not lost . . .  not just yet. . . . The latter part of the decade was very formative for Chicago theater and proved time and time again why this city will triumph . . . despite impossible odds.” She goes on to list some of the major developments within the Chicago theatre community over the past few years, concluding:

“It’s hard to stay motivated and remind people of their triumphs during these uncertain times when many artists are filing for unemployment. But it’s times like these when we need to be reminded of our strength and power the most. Chicago theater has confronted a lot: harassment scandals, racial insensitivity and otherwise-problematic coverage in the media, inequitable casting choices, and the ongoing economic hardships of making theater on a shoestring. It most definitely will overcome this, too. With everything that everyone has gone through to make Chicago theater the vital industry it has become, COVID-19 has nothing on us. . . . So relax. Recharge. Because when this is all over and we see you on the flip side, you are going to slay this town and show us that you are a fierce theater warrior not to be trifled with. You got this!

To read the full article in the Chicago Reader, click here.