Story Submitted by Max Kelly

Before the pandemic: I performed daily. I was in three active improv troupes, and an assortment of other scattered projects. My roommates would joke with me that they should rent out my room during the day; it was vacant all the time! Then, it all stopped. At first, it felt like a much needed break. But, before long, I felt myself missing the creativity I was able to express so frequently. Nothing has been QUITE the same, but I stumbled into other things that allowed me to stay active. Of my three improv troupes, two were comedy based (Quadruple Stuffed Oreos, and Murphy Bed Surprise) and the other was a form that focused on re-telling/honoring stories that were shared by the audience (Playback UCF.)

As for the comedy troupes, here was my replacement: Dungeons and Dragons. What a nerd, right? Well, Monsieur Le Jock, I’ll have you know that sitting down in front of a zoom call with your close friends, alcoholic beverage in hand, and making them laugh with funny voices and role playing is actually a STUPID amount of fun. It’s just like improv: You play a character, they get put in all sorts of different contexts, and you end up telling a pretty cool story (and you’re doing it with your friends.) Every member of the group is into theatre/improv as well, and we’ve created some really memorable moments with just our minds and some laughs. It’s as creative as anything else you can do.

As for the storytelling troupe, Playback UCF, we actually never went away. We transitioned into zoom performances. It took experimenting and a decent amount of work, but we ended up performing several shows that packed the same emotional punch that our in-person shows do. It was rewarding to create something that was polished and legitimate under the circumstances the world is under. We still rehearse, twice a week, and have shared our format with other groups.

Now lastly, I am very proud to say that I am playing a role in one of the first live-shows in Central Florida since the outbreak. The director and producer boldly took on the project: a live, outdoor, drive-in theatre production of Euripides “The Bacchae.” He worked to find and rent an outdoor location where actors will remain 6 feet apart, and audience members will watch from the safety of their vehicles. We began table-work through zoom, and have recently transitioned into socially-distant blocking rehearsals.

From all of this, I learned that people will be able to pursue their passions despite all circumstances. The product may look different than what we’re used to, but it’s art all the same. And! There is a widespread anticipation for a return to normalcy. When people typically go to a comedy show, they buy their ticket because they want to laugh. When they sit down, they are ready and willing to laugh and enjoy themselves. Right now, that readiness and willingness is as powerful as ever. I’m excited to experience it.