I moved to New York when I was 23, 17 years ago, now because I was a weirdo who only wanted to do one thing: Make weird plays. I ran people’s light boards and acted for free until I had a community. Then I saved enough money working shit jobs until I had enough to throw it all away renting theatres to do my own work.
Up until last Thursday, I have had the great privilege of giving (more than) 2,500 artists a year the gift that I never had: free space. And they do it right. I am constantly inspired by them. Even now, on my darkest artistic day in New York City so far, I know they will pull us through.
To any artist reading who has worked at the Tank, in my heart I want you to know: You are the Tank.
There is a virus threatening the very nature of what we do. Our work brings people together in celebration of love and humanhood. Right now that is dangerous to our audiences and to us. It is so surreal—it breaks my heart that today at the office we had calls from senior centers, the most vulnerable among us, almost begging to come see theatre at the Tank.
But also I am proud to be a part of a community that is doing the right thing. We are closing even with the threat of not reopening. Because what else would we be doing otherwise?
If I have learned anything in 17 years, it’s that sometimes Dionysus demands a sacrifice.
So here’s what I suggest in the interim.
Take care of your body but also take care of the creator in you. Treat each limitation as a gift. Write shit down. Absorb the work of other artists in other forms and genres that will inspire your storytelling. Take a breath and make the self-care appointments you have been putting off. Call the people that care about you: friends, family, your mom (if applicable). Tell them what they mean to you now. Write down your goals and then take a walk outside by yourself. Ride an empty subway train car. Listen to songs alone on repeat and turn off social media for a few days. Dream about all the plays you will make one day, and don’t worry so much about not making them right now. We need a different thing from your body and mind right now. We need you to be generous with your mind and with your body. You get a break.
Mourn your show that just closed or never opened or maybe never will open, for just 24 hours, and then let it go.
Ask for help from anybody you need help from. Ask for help from anybody you need help from. Ask for help from anybody you need help from—and feel no shame about it.
In fact, don’t be ashamed to ask for money or for food or help paying for medical care.
Spend some time thinking about what you are grateful for. If you have the time, donate your time to someone who needs help.
Prepare for when we need your creative spirit again. And we will very, very soon.
Meghan Finn is the artistic director of the Tank. Her work has been seen at the Tank, the V&A, Serpentine Galleries, the Wexner Center, SCAD, The Logan Center for the Arts, Museo Jumex Mexico City, The Power Plant, Canadian Stage, Carnegie Mellon, Brooklyn College, MIT, the Great Plains Theater Conference, and many others.