“Homo pandemicus” at the show | The duty

Montreal, you have to get there first, a declining pandemic or not. The works are ripping up the city, the theater or cinema street has become a chasm with wooden sidewalks that lose you in the process. Orange cones distract walkers and drive motorists crazy; obstacle course added to Covidian folds. You have to want, but you want. Down with voluntary confinements! Bold the brave!

The return to theaters and cinemas since their full reception permit on October 8 is very revealing of the humans that we are, more or less transformed by this damn pandemic. For some, including myself, the delicious side of reunions with a little gray crowd. We accept the inconveniences of contact in front of a stage or a screen for the happiness of the collective experience rediscovered.

Even when plays start late, in order to accommodate latecomers trapped by outdoor sites and to scan vaccine passports at the door, we keep smiling. But who among us really got out of the viral adventure unscathed? Everyone has changed this or that. Here we are transformed into Homo pandemicus, a new species trembling on legs.

In the metropolis, as everywhere, lurks this fear of the unknown neighbor, who has become a monster with coronavirus stings. She hugs you for a second in spite of you. Others turn pale. Here new reflexes, quickly or not repressed! “Distancing was good! Say with a sigh the most fearful.

This mask to keep throughout the performances, after we have gone a few months, seems more inconvenient than ever … lights go out. Some feel suffocated after an hour of constant wear. We scratch our noses in unison. It stings. What about the force of habit? Even from a recent habit. The pandemic episode is not two years old. As we have changed …

So much so that spectators simply do not come back. And to cancel, unhappy, their tickets already reserved, waiting to be able to enjoy a show with their faces uncovered and to be less afraid. Or no longer hoping for anything, soaring as they are, missing. “Poisoned gift,” grumble producers and operators since the announcement of the new guidelines. Some cautious establishments retain distancing measures to keep the favor of frightened customers. The ticketing assistance paid by Quebec to theater operators ceases in principle on November 14. The midfielder hopes to see them ride again, because of this recovery which is chugging along. No one plans anything more. The audience’s needle swings.

Sword of Damocles

During the confinement, several people had felt, after reflection, very much at home in slippers. Enticing digital offers converted “outgoing” people to the joys of art delivered to their homes. Of course, the gregarious nature of human beings will sooner or later bring them back to neck and neck emotions, but a sword of Damocles floats above the non-commercial arts. What if the pandemic had really made people more sheepish? Some will say: more stupid … Less browsers, in any case.

Already, many amateurs of author’s films, theater and classical music were aging, impoverished in retirement. Some tightened their belts by suppressing exits. Then, new rituals in the cocoon were established in serenity or anguish. The wind was blowing towards the house.

Today, comedy shows can rouse an audience thirsty for relaxation, mega-shows and daily movies attract customers again. At the Festival du nouveau cinema, well-filled rooms seemed to promise a bright future for unifying events. Elsewhere, the clientele is shrinking, apart from the most popular premieres. Who still wants to dig the coconut? Not many people, alas!

The breathtaking COVID hiatus has accentuated well-established currents: these giants of the web as fat as thieves, this entertainment that was crushing culture in time-lapse, here, everywhere. No, we have not finished weighing the repercussions of the pandemic rupture. Too many multiple factors open up new avenues. On the cultural scene, everything is in suspense, you can feel it. The pieces have moved left and right, like the blocks of Montreal construction sites that obstruct the paths to the rooms.

Let the dust fall on both sides. But against all headwinds, let us support the arts nourished by memory and keen exploration, more threatened than ever. THE’Homo pandemicus should learn to protect beauty. Bold the brave? But yes.

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