As the temporary shutdown of Broadway and theatres around the world continues, Playbill is reaching out to artists to see how they are physically and creatively responding to a changed world.
The series continues with Mary Testa, who was most recently seen on Broadway in a Tony-nominated performance as Aunt Eller in the Tony-winning 2019 revival of Oklahoma!. The Broadway favorite was also nominated for her work in the revivals of 42nd Street and On the Town, and her Main Stem credits include Guys and Dolls, Wicked, Xanadu, Marie Christine, Chicago, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Rink, Marilyn, and Barnum. She has appeared in over two dozen Off-Broadway productions, winning two Obie Awards and Actors' Equity Association's Joe A. Callaway Award. Testa is also one of the many artists featured on the new album (I Am) Nobody’s Lunch, part of The Michael Friedman Collection from Ghostlight Records and The Civilians.
What is your typical day like now?
Every day is basically the same. My dog takes priority, and we go out several times a day for walks. In the morning I catch up on emails and social media and drink coffee, then we go to the dog park, then sit by the river. Then I come home and chill, do errands, etc. Usually I am by the river at night with friends. By 8 PM, I am in and day is done. Very different from my usual schedule.
What book/TV show/podcast/film should everyone take the time to consume during this period?
This is crazy, but I am a huge fan of TikTok videos. I have actually learned lots of things from them. And of course, Netflix, where I just watched Indian Matchmaking and Love on the Spectrum, among many others.
During this time of reflection and re-education regarding Black artists and artistry, particularly in the theatre, what do you want people (those in power, fellow actors, audiences) to be aware of? What do you want them to consider further?
It is embarrassing that it is even an issue in 2020. I cannot believe we have not gotten over racism already. Black artists and artistry needs to have a major place at the table. Voices need to be heard. Plays, musicals, performers need to be front and center. They need to have control over their narrative. We whiteys need to shut up, listen, and learn.
What advice would you give to someone who may be struggling with the isolation and/or the current unrest?
I think great things can come out of chaos, and I feel it is most important to keep your boat afloat. By that, I mean find what gives you peace and focus on that. Find that part of you that is connected to the higher good. Nourish that. Know that the only constant is change. We will get through all this, but it will take time. I also am loving keeping connected to friends on Marco Polo and Zoom. I am sure there are other things as well, but granny don’t know that.
How, if at all, are you keeping your creative juices flowing? Has that been helpful to you?
I have to admit, I am enjoying the rest. Plus I have focused on upgrading my house. Doing little things to make it better. I am loving that.
What organization would you recommend people learn more about or donate to during this time of change?
Joe Biden’s campaign. He must be elected.