The Beauties & The Beasts #16

PATHOS Penpal Project

Deutsch-Amerikanischer Briefaustausch zwischen Antigone Akgün (DE) und John L. Peacock (USA)

Im Rahmen der Reihe «King Kong und die weissen Frauen»

Howdy Antigone,

First, I’d like to acknowledge the rather amazing tribute to your outgoing Chancellor, Angela Merkel, with what I read as Germany’s outpouring of gratitude. Again, this view is coming from the outsider American, but I read an article written by her successor, Armin Laschet, about how she served Germany without a sense of personal gain but with a stance towards universal gain (when she succeeded as when she failed), and I was particularly struck with an image of people across the country coming to their windows and applauding her at a given time, united in roughly six minutes of a salute both individual and universal, that the country stood in applause for Merkel together. Perhaps it is much more romantic in my mind than it was in reality, but given what I just went through I am okay with a little political romanticism right now.
When I read your letter, I was in the midst of a similar fatalistic spiral to your own confessions: what is my art and profession and identity today, as what will it be tomorrow, so, really, what was it in the past, anyway… It was keeping me up till the sun rose & in bed ‘til it set some days, and my life mirrored yours so precisely that it could have been me writing that entire letter that was your most recent of these correspondences.
But there’s been a lot that’s happened since our last communication. Even as recently as this past week, out here in NYC especially, we’re getting the vaccines (and along with them professed hope of in-person communion in the horizon) at a record rate. I am still very skeptical, I want to start with that, and that my entire friend base is following the guidelines of treating our regular activities as if we weren’t vaccinated no matter what, until things actually change, but there is something mentally beneficial to this new perception of hope. On a very personal note, I just received my second COVID-19 vaccination shot, from the good people at Pfizer, earlier this week. Physically, this has changed nothing, as my general employment as an in-person teacher and/or stage actor in New York City is still a ways from returning, like a carrot on the end of a string that lulls me forward regardless of my resistance, but mentally this has opened up the world to me again. I have thought of travel to my family, three-thousand miles away, for the first time in a year. I still won’t do it for some time, and I fully understand this, but merely the thought that it is a possibility has me excited to wake up in the morning for the first time in some time.
Also, on a quasi-professional/semi-personal note, the company and community I created roughly ten years ago, still owning the straightforward name of “Play Readings With Friends,” completed our fifty-second play reading via Zoom in fifty-two weeks, celebrating our One-Year-Online Anniversary this past Saturday with a powerful piece dealing with racism in America, written by one of our resident playwrights. This community, now grown to encompassing playwrights and actors from Australia, several countries in Europe and Africa, and states across the USA in every continental time zone, has been a shining light in the muck of my past year. It kept me from the darkest depths of the void, helped me stay engaged with people (if only via zoom) outside my quarantined bubble, and was the push I needed to sustain my pocket of the pandemic as death and dehumanization reigned this past year. I owe a bit of my future to it, and I hope you had something (some one, some ones, some thing or things) that helped you through, too. Even if that thing was intangible, unspeakable even.
But, as my final dose takes hold and gives me something to hope for, I hope to see you on the other end of this, still as safely as we should be, meeting artist to artist in the manner we theatre makers should: face-to-face.
I hope my little nibbles of news were helpful, and I very much look forward to your next letter. Until then, Be Well.


Jon L Peacock



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