COVID-19: Staying Creative

As an actress living the reality of a pandemic in New York, Stella Pulo hopes to create something bigger than the COVID-19 horrors.

New York has a chunk of its heart and arteries cut out, but the city that never sleeps is slowly waking up. While frontline workers are relentlessly saving lives, artists are turning dreams into art.

This time last year, I was preparing to come to Malta to conduct a workshop; a dream come true. Today, I am in my Manhattan apartment, in lockdown.

I remember something someone told me years ago; there may be a reason to not be auditioning, performing, working, but there is never a reason to not be creative. So, I am creating.

I have gone through my singing repertoire and the monologues that I use at auditions and thrown out what no longer speaks to me. My website and publicity material needed updating and, with the help of an online tutorial, I learnt how to do this.

I took a good hard look at one of my one-woman shows, Every Night Something Awful! and am reconstructing while sharing with other artists during Zoom sessions organized by The Actors Studio.

In 2011, I published a book comprising twelve short comic stories, each set in a different country, Shrimp Shells in My Cleavage – Travel Tales from an Aussie Actress on the run. While in Malta last year I adapted one of the stories, My My Malta! into television format.

During this time I have adapted four others. I am also thinking that my Shrimp Shells can also be adapted into a theatre piece for me to perform.

I have a different appreciation for nature these days, probably because I haven’t been outside since March 19, except for poking my head out the window of my 33rd-floor apartment at 7pm every night, and joining in on the banging of pots and pans in support of frontline workers.

When I do this, I experience the air, wind, rain, temperature, very differently. This has inspired me to create a performance piece, Objects of Nature which, when this nightmare is over, I will offer to gardens, galleries and museums. I will embody objects of nature such as feathers, leaves and grains of sand, and perform these while accompanied by live percussionists.

All of this is happening while trying to keep mind and body in a healthy state. It’s difficult. New York has been hit harder than anywhere in the world.

But as artists, we’re lucky. We have tools and imagination to create something much bigger than the horrors of the COVID-19.