The Beauties & The Beasts #19

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»


Dear Antigone,

Well, here’s the last letter from me of this kind. With our host company, PATHOS, going onto their summer break, and this little experiment of ours ending, it may be the last “pen pal” letter I ever write. It’s been fun, and somewhat motivating in my life of zero motivation. I was the artist that went to sleep, hibernated through this COVID winter, wanting to get out and feeling my mass deplete under the snow, but scared to see what dangers lay above the ground. I realize it has a name, perhaps depression, perhaps social anxiety, probably a combination of those with a mix of intangible elements that will haunt me through the rest of my life; but it does have a name, and it seems to be affecting more than our statistics will ever calculate. I will recover, as my life is defined by recoveries, so I don’t ultimately worry about my current state, but I still have my current state to deal with. New York City is now fully open. Live theatre is back. You can snap a photograph of most parts of the City and it will look like it did in 2019. But I worry. I fear new variants, Delta especially, and I fear the unknown creeping-crawler viruses out there awaiting their chance for the next wave of pandemics. Or maybe I’m too imaginative?

France just announced zero tolerance for unvaccinated people; does it feel like Germany might follow suit? Is that what is needed to beat this thing? Is that too authoritarian? As an artist who’s art requires audiences to exist, and one who is terrified of being in an audience, I really don’t know what the next “right” move by our governments should look like. I was just offered free tickets to SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK, the big what-to-do in New York, and it’s even outside. I rejected them. My partner said that going might do me some good, and I fully believe her, but my anxiety spike said it might just traumatize me more than help, so I begged the experience off. I may regret that decision later, but regret is easier than utter terror.

But I have been going out. Making short trips to see close friends, sharing moments like before 2020, hugging even, breathing rarified air even as I fear the air I breathe. Baby steps back to a reality that encompasses a society, culture, art, communal experiences. My life has been so focused on the communal nature of the world, and this pandemic has challenged every aspect of that life…who am I if not a part of the bigger “US”? Well, I’ve figured a bit of that out, and now I need to push past my fears and bring the “me” back to the “us.”

How are you? Where are you in all this pandemic philosophizing? I hope to meet you in Munich in the near future. Or somewhere else down the road. Perhaps a Berlin expose, a Brooklyn premiere, or some cheese and wine soirée that neither of us really want to be at? Somewhere. I truly hope that. And I hope you’re well. I hope your writing has been flowing, your art has been percolating, and your life has been continuing despite the external hiccups in the world. Be Well, my Pen Pal, and as they say out west: Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet…

All the Best,

Jon L Peacock

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