Executive Director of the Paramount Bruce Bouchard, of Rutland, talks about how his life has been affected by the pandemic and its consequences.
How are you handling self-isolation?I call it “Love in the Time of Cholera.” I am fortunate to have a loving woman in my life who makes every moment of self-isolation bearable. We read together, cook together, clean together, fret together, laugh together, cry together, gnash our teeth at the news conferences together and, of course, binge-watch one-hour dramas together. (I highly recommend “Ozark” — not “Tiger King.”)
What has been the biggest challenge for you?Not being able to sit at the bar at 99 for a beer and a sirloin. Or drive 40 miles to Solo Farm and Table for fine dining. On a more serious note, mapping and planning for the next season at the Paramount is normally at this time well under way and moving apace. Given the closure mandate, and an uncertain future about large gatherings, we are doing serious “scenario planning” and fighting a game of survival. I miss the simple joys of chatting face to face with people, and sitting in our glorious hall and appreciating our fantastic audience as they enjoy and savor the work on the stage. Nothing quite so specific as a darkened theatre, with our Ghost Light, center stage, like an obedient soldier, defying the darkness.
What has been the most pleasant surprise?In spite of the disastrous federal response to this world health crisis, I am surprised by, and proud of, the real body politic, which has stayed the home and respected the high-level danger of this stalking, stealthy and deadly virus. I am surprised (well, maybe not) by the disparity between the daily pressers from Andrew Cuomo and Donald Trump.
How much of what you’re doing do you think will you carry forward after the pandemic?Don’t know yet what that looks like of feels like for the largest public venue in south central Vermont. The clear vision for the future will reveal itself. As to isolation, it is antithetical to a life in the arts — intrinsically bound to a partnership with large groups of people gathering in the Theatron (seeing place). Sadly, touching one another might be forever changed, hugs, handshakes, kisses, nuzzling a child, will all, I fear, for at least a time, carry a certain reticence.
And what do you feel the lessons will be that come out of all of this?Hopefully, we will re-establish a Pandemic Readiness Department in the federal government. Hopefully, this will be a very red flag for the asinine science deniers. Perhaps they can re-purpose those red flags into KEEP AMERICA SAFE AGAIN hats. Furthermore, we must all take stock: love who we love, have compassion and understanding, and most importantly, savor blessings, live with great care and take nothing for granted.