Charlotte Moore

Moving Forward

Zak Kearns

Joe Szekeres

The first time I saw Charlotte Moore’s name was in the early 90s up at Town Hall 1873, Port Perry, Ontario. I saw her headshot on the wall, and someone had told me she had given a concert there sometime earlier.

It was in 1990 when I had travelled with the Borelians, a local theatre group from Port Perry, to see a live production of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. I had seen it on film but never done live. I’ll always remember being told during a live performance of ‘Rocky’, the audience could shout whatever they wanted but not to throw things. It was in this production where I saw Charlotte play Janet. That year, Charlotte won the Dora Mavor Moore Award (named after her grandmother) for Janet.

And I missed seeing the extraordinary production of ‘Cabaret’ at London, Ontario’s Grand Theatre in which Charlotte appeared. Darn it all! This production was slated to tour the show, but who knows what will happen with the theatres closed. I really hope I get to see this particular production.

From one of her answers, you’ll see Charlotte has appeared at Drayton. I haven’t been there to review productions as of yet, but am hoping when it is safe to return to the theatre.

Charlotte answered the questions via email. Thank you so much for participating:

It has been an exceptionally long five months since we’ve all been in isolation, and now it appears we are slowly emerging to some new way of living. How have you been faring? How has your immediate family been doing during this time?

I was alone for all of lockdown and that was very challenging. About a month ago my daughter moved back in with me so now I have someone else to cook for, which is vastly preferable! My other daughter was in that 4th year class at Sheridan that got shut down on Friday the 13th. They were all pretty devastated by the way their last year was cut so short and their final productions cancelled.

I found in the beginning I was very skittish about going out, and when I did the number of people not observing protocols was maddening!

I did a lot of driving for the Sewing Army that Diana Coatsworth formed to make PPE for hospitals, Homes, Clinics, etc, and then I borrowed a sewing machine so I could make the masks and scrub caps in bulk myself (a typical order would be 25 scrub caps or 50 masks). This really gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel much better about things. Felt like I was contributing instead of just hiding.

As a performer, what has been the most difficult and challenging for you professionally and personally?

All the cancellations. The friends I won’t/don’t get to see, the stories we won’t get to share. Also, as a person who was living alone until very recently, the lack of the companionship you get at work was pretty devastating.

Were you in preparation, rehearsals, or any planning stages of productions before everything was shut down? What has become of those projects? Will they see the light of day anytime soon?

Oh, yes. I was supposed to do “42nd Street” for Drayton (one of my favourite places to work) - we were gonna play Cambridge and then July in Grand Bend (which is spectacular that time of year). With a director I adore. All these very large singin’ and dancin’ shows will be, I’m sure, the last things to come back. Don’t know how long we’ll have to wait for that. Probably a couple of years. Quite bummed about it.

And we were going to go back into rehearsal next month for the remarkable production of “Cabaret” we did at the Grand Theatre last year for a national tour! That’s been “postponed”, but I honestly don’t know how we can do our Show in the New Reality – it was VERY interactive. We were on top of and in the midst of the audience, so...

What have you been doing to keep yourself busy during this time?

As I said – making and delivering the masks and scrub caps to all the various places that have requested them. I also am learning the script for an existing one-person show to keep my mind working. Going on weekly Distance Walks with various friends – that really helped with the isolation.

I also have done a great deal of Zoom Yoga! My favourite teacher works out of Charlottetown...

Any words of wisdom or advice you might /could give to fellow performers and colleagues? What message would you deliver to recent theatre school graduates who have now been set free into this unknown and uncertainty given the fact live theaters and studios might be closed for 1 ½ - 2 years?

I truly wish I had some advice to give! And the message I gave my daughter was: “This really sucks! What a way to have to start your journey – with everything on hold! It sucks!”

I will tell you that the same daughter has decided to devote this time to her Side Hustle – she's going back to school for the next year to get a diploma in a practical field – she's getting her Esthetician’s Licence! I think that’s genius!

So maybe that’s my advice – we all need to find another purpose. Maybe it’s just some way to make some money, but this being in Limbo thing is very bad for our mental health.

Do you see anything positive stemming from Covid 19?

All the revelations that are coming out about the systemic racism in our industry have been shocking and necessary. Very necessary. So we can’t go back to that.

And maybe we have all learned to be a little kinder to one another.

Do you think Covid 19 will have some lasting impact on the Canadian/North American performing arts scene?

Definitely. It’s a very scary time, with entire seasons of large Arts Organizations being cancelled. I think a lot of people may be forced to find other industries to work in, which makes me very sad.

But I do feel that this strange time has given everyone out there a stronger appreciation for the Arts in general. I really do.

Some artists have turned to You Tube and online streaming to showcase their work. What are your comments and thoughts about streaming? Is this something that the actor/theatre may have to utilize going forward into the unknown?

I was a huge watcher of livestreams when the whole thing started. They kept me company in a very lonely time. I’ve kind of started thinking of them as a separate art form, to be honest. They can’t replace live anything, but they are a platform for people to at least make some music!

That being said, I do worry about giving it all away for free...

Despite all this fraught tension and confusion, what is it about performing that Covid will never destroy for you?

All of it. It may have put all our lives and careers on “hold”, but it can never take away the shows we’ve already done, the music we have already made. I am grateful that I’m older and have so many great experiences to look back on.

I feel really badly for the young people – like my daughter – who were just starting out and have had to jam the brakes on.

Doesn’t seem fair at all.

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